The challenge

New York University (NYU) has been an innovator in higher education since its founding in 1831. But with a legacy on- premises data center using expensive and scarce New York City real estate, NYU decided it was time to migrate their data into the cloud. Motivated by the need for more classroom space and reduced total cost of ownership (TCO), they committed to vacating their existing data center, housing more than 2,200 servers, within 18 months — an aggressive timeline. Based on our exemplary track record with previous engagements, CDW was recommended by Amazon Web Services (AWS) to partner with NYU to move the infrastructure to the AWS Cloud. Based off of NYU’s needs, CDW established a third objective: retiring technical debt as part of the mass migration effort.


The solution

CDW leveraged its proprietary SkyMap tool and other third-party discovery utilities to review and analyze the NYU infrastructure. The environment was broken into different security zones based on data privacy requirements. During this review period, CDW uncovered legacy and non-supported servers that needed to be re-platformed before migrating to the cloud. As part of the discovery process, CDW not only developed a list of necessary workloads, but also identified workloads that were no longer necessary. After conducting extensive interviews with stakeholders, CDW grouped the workloads into “apps,” instances, resources and processes that work together to serve a specific need.

To reduce TCO, CDW meticulously went server by server, app by app, and environment by environment to predict and optimize storage and computing costs using AWS EC2 instances.

Working backward from the 18-month deadline, CDW created a full migration plan using “waves” of server and app migrations, prioritizing apps that used fewer servers to minimize risk. This also allowed us to evaluate each migration wave so that subsequent moves could take advantage of the lessons learned from previous waves as complexity increased.



After working with IT Services, the security team, cloud engineers, and the network operations center, CDW was able to provide NYU with a centralized management system for their infrastructure and related services. Now the infrastructure is scalable, secure, and agile, taking advantage of the faster performance and disaster recovery capabilities of the AWS Cloud.

The financial advantages were also a major win: the new data structure will save NYU approximately $3.8M annually, resulting in a five-year ROI of 120%. Interdepartmental revenue, driven by centralizing school-owned servers, is estimated to increase by 18%. None of these savings consider the NYC real estate assets that were freed up, or the time savings that modernized upgrade and maintenance methods provide.

Moving student and administration applications from an on- premises environment to the AWS Cloud in only 18 months was no small feat, but CDW’s meticulous planning and preparation made the process as smooth as possible for NYU. Thanks to SkyMap and CDW’s experience with cloud migration, NYU enjoys improved automation, standardized platforms, and enhanced speed and recovery. 

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