Google Storage: Coming Together to Implement Enterprise Changes
In November 2021, Google announced changes to its enterprise storage licenses for education, limiting the amount of data that could be stored in their free education tenets. This change in licensing and policy caused a significant impact on education institutions, including the University of Kentucky. Immediately, UK Information Technology Services (UK ITS) knew there would be a lot of work to do in order to get the overall University’s Google storage utilization below the 150TB maximum capacity set by Google. Prior to this policy change, universities and schools enjoyed unlimited storage on Google, allowing them to store vast amounts of data without worrying about space limitations. However, with the new limit in place, UK would be forced to grapple with a reduced storage capacity. This meant that UK ITS was looking at how to reduce the overall Google storage utilization from 2PB to 150TB of data by December 2022.
Facing the Challenge
One of the most difficult aspects of this new policy by Google was that it would require all individuals at UK to work together to bring the overall storage usage down to 150TB. If the total storage utilization at UK was not reduced to be compliant with Google’s new max capacity of 150TB, it would affect all UK Google tenet users. These effects could include degraded performance or the inability for anyone at UK to add more to their Google storage.
To address this challenge in the fairest way possible, UK ITS set a maximum capacity of 15GB per UK Google account and began assessing which users would need the most assistance with migrating their data. For some, a reduction to 15GB in storage was going to be a significant obstacle. It was clear that there needed to be a plan of attack that involved clear communication and hands-on support.
Marci Adams, Assistant Director of Communications & Strategic Engagement, knew that implementing a change this large would require many communications via various channels. “When implementing changes that affect an individual’s data, it is of the utmost importance that they have all the information in front of them to make sure their data is secured and accessible.”
UK ITS focused in on students, faculty, and staff using the largest amount of storage, as migrating these customers’ data was essential in the overall success of the project. This involved working closely with individuals to assist them with migrating their data and managing their storage effectively within the new limitations. Providing guidance and support throughout the process became a key aspect of the strategy to address the storage limitations imposed by Google.
Paul London, Project Manager for Enterprise Projects in UK ITS, assisted with a wide variety of scenarios across the enterprise. “We worked with many students, faculty, and staff on this project. Some engagements were a single email pointing to information or answering a quick question, while some took months to assist them move multiple TBs of data to alternate destinations.”
To make sure information was readily available for students, faculty, and staff affected by this change, UK ITS teams worked together to create various assets to support both decision-making and the process of migrating data. Articles were drafted and published in the Tech Help Center (techhelpcenter.uky.edu), targeted emails were sent to individuals using over 15GB in data, and virtual Town Hall events were hosted to answer any questions involving the data migration process. All assets were aimed at educating individuals of other available storage options, assisting them in identifying the most suitable ways to move their data, and providing support throughout the process. Given the unique needs and requirements of each person, the project required flexibility and adaptability to address diverse situations and work through the challenges that arose.
Collaborating Across the University
Collaborating with stakeholders across UK was essential in moving the needle on enterprise Google storage utilization. A major use case for Google storage at UK was for research data. Working with UK ITS Research Computing Infrastructure (RCI), Center for Computational Sciences (CCS), and other research contacts was instrumental in providing support for researchers’ data migrations. Notably, RCI and CCS put in significant efforts to help their users move large volumes of data from Google to other storage solutions. The combined efforts of these teams and individuals helped ensure large amounts of important research data were migrated and managed in a timely and efficient manner. Paul London and Austin Anders, both in transition from the Enterprise Systems to the Enterprise Cybersecurity teams, were essential in leading these collaborations.
Stephen Burr, Associate CIO & CISO, is grateful for their efforts. “Austin was transitioning from the Directories & Messaging team to the Cybersecurity team right as we were making a final push to beat the deadline from Google. His work was at the center of everything, and it would have had a significant impact on the project if he was unavailable. Austin asked to stay on the project until we were finished. I’m grateful for his commitment to see it through to a successful conclusion.”
The IT Community of Practice (IT CoP), a group of IT professionals across the enterprise, were also essential partners in this project. IT CoP members were often contacted to help support individuals in their colleges, departments, or units with questions or in need of support.
Throughout the project, UK ITS was in contact with Google to obtain a timeline of these new restrictions and understand the impact should UK not meet the storage limitations by December 2022. Google was helpful in answering technical questions and providing support when needed.
Crossing the Finish Line
As December began to approach, the University still had a significant amount of data yet to be migrated. All communication and support efforts previously planned needed to impart a sense of urgency in remaining Google storage accounts still over 15GB. This involved developing a communications plan that gradually ramped up as the deadline approached, ensuring that users were well-informed about the changes and their implications. On December 1, 2022, UK ITS enforced the 15GB limit, taking away the ability for anyone to go over the 15GB limit moving forward.
As a last push effort, a Qualtrics form was sent to individuals who still had over 15GB in Google storage asking them to choose an option for migrating their data. The form gave the option for individuals to ask one more time for assistance with data migration or inform UK ITS that their data had already been moved and could be deleted. Chris Lamour had recently joined the Enterprise Systems team and began working steadily to begin deleting and migrating data.
“Chris Larmour jumped in right as the bulk of migrations were underway. It was a much-needed set of extra hands, and I don’t think we would have been successful without his help,” noted Stephen Burr. Additionally, the project received essential support from Nick McClure with Identity Management and Virginia Lacefield from IRADS on collecting survey data.
By January of 2023, total data storage in UK's Google tenet was finally reduced to less than 150TB. A culmination of over a year’s work in communication, collaboration, and technical support had paid off.
“The Google storage migration was a project of a thousand projects. It required attention to detail, excellent communication, dedicated customer service skills — and on many days, a good sense of humor. Paul and Marci provided leadership and support that were essential to moving the project forward and our customers engaged,” reflected Stephen Burr.
Through the dedication and effort of the project team, in collaboration with various stakeholders, UK ITS showed that a significant change can be implemented when teams talk to each other and work together towards a common goal.