Aalborg University

Aalborg University

Aalborg University will strengthen their innovation ability and their professionalism, with structured access to services in the cloud.

A world-class research environment requires a world-class digital environment. Founded in a digitalization strategy for the entire organization, Aalborg University will use Microsoft Azure's service catalog to enhance quality and strengthen innovation in research, education and knowledge collaboration.

Aalborg University (AAU) has one of Europe's - and in some cases the world's - best research environments. They score five out of five stars in an international rating system and are thus at the same level as universities like Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge and Stanford. In 2018, they were ranked four on the U.S. News & World Report's list of engineering and they also received the same ranking on MIT's list of the world's leading engineering programs.


Industry: Education & research.
Core Business: Education & research.
Employess: 3000+ employees & 20.000+ students.
Geo: Denmark.
Workload migrated: Infrastructure workloads, DNS, ADFS & Active Directory.

Aalborg University

The continuation of the ambitious work is based on their strategy "Knowledge for the world", and a supplementary digitization strategy that describes the university's visions and goals for the future. Here, it has been emphasized that digitalization must be a means of enhancing quality and enhancing innovation, so that AAU remains strong within research, education and knowledge collaboration.

Quality and innovation are among the main reasons why AAU is fully embarking on a digital transformation journey to make the university better utilize cloud technology. In 2016, they implemented Microsoft Office 365 for students, researchers and administrative staff, and are now in the process of creating an IT environment that leverages new opportunities in Microsoft Azure. Joining AAU's transformation journey is Microsoft partner ProActive, who provides consulting and a proven concept for creating an IT environment that integrates on-premise solutions with cloud-based solutions.

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Two parallel tracks 

Simon Holm is team leader in AAU It Services. He explains that ProActive and AAU focus on two parallel tracks.

The first track is primarily about defining and designing an Azure foundation. In the past, we used Azure ad hoc services when needed. In the future, we need to have a structured approach to how our cloud platform works and interact with our on premise solutions, and we need to have the approach rooted in the right places in the organization. The second track is about creating a roadmap of the organizational changes and skills enhancement that the transition requires of our employees ” Simon Holm says. 

New distribution of work with the use of cloud

He explains, that some of the first thing that AAU embarked on in collaboration with ProActive was clarifying the IT roles needed in the future.

“Although Azure is not a whole new area for us, there are still a lot of new tools we need to explore, and that is a new way for us to work with IT. It is a shift from focusing on classic operations to having more focus on system architecture and integrations. There is a need to run applications across vendors and to bring the overall system landscape together."
Simon Holm, Team Leader, AAU It Services

As part of the new setup, AAU is also gaining experience in resource management of consumption in Microsoft Azure. Previously, each faculty has been settled on the basis of a generic distribution key. In the future, they will be able to see exactly what each faculty has used for resources, which will increase transparency and focus on cost reductions.

No need to build applications from scratch 

Even though they are at an early stage of their transformation journey, Simon Holm can already see that in the future AAU will be better at providing targeted education and administration services from the Microsoft Azure service catalog. Why do they have to spend time, money and resources on building applications, when they already exist in an established and secure cloud delivery model?

“The key word is accessibility. We need to give employees and researchers access to the right services. The services needed to improve the quality of their work. For example, the Azure IoT Hub is ideal for our researchers. ”
Simon Holm, Team Leader, AAU IT-services

He explains that it has also been part of the considerations in the IT department that Azure guarantees that security, finances, GDPR and governance structures are in control. That is, all the conditions that risk inhibiting innovation and development in a research and education environment, if there is doubt as to whether or not full control over a digital service is available.

Balance between modernization and future-proofing

Jesper Drechsler Nielsen, Sales Executive at ProActive, is responsible for the collaboration with AAU. He explains that over the years, ProActive has helped many organizations and businesses plan and execute their journey in the cloud. As with AAU, it is about finding the right balance between modernizing and future-proofing the IT environment, so that the system landscape is interconnected, the solutions serve a specific purpose and there is room for future optimization.

Our goal is to ensure a successful transition in the cloud. It could - as in this case - be with Azure, or it could be with Office 365 and the use of OneDrive, Teams, etc. It's basically the same framework to use. It's about defining a strategy, creating a vision and establishing a roadmap so it can be tangible and clear to get started. "
Jesper Drechsler Nielsen, ProActive

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Jesper Drechsler
Drechsler Nielsen
Sales Executive - Cloud, Infrastructure & Security
+45 41 30 42 92