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Hybrid cloud strategies should be reimagined as multi-cloud

Everyone is talking about hybrid cloud strategies, implying this framework is how all IT resources will be deployed in the future. It sounds great — on paper. Proponents tout hybrid cloud’s ability to tap into both public and private resources to build scalable applications that can be managed and secured as if they were being delivered privately — a way to have your cake and eat it, too.

Unfortunately, for the vast majority of workloads, this scenario will probably never play out. There may be a few isolated instances or use cases where this is workable, but, seriously, most workloads don’t need this level of flexibility, especially when stacked up against the considerable management and security challenges of a true hybrid cloud.

Analysts and pontificators — myself included — have talked about hybrid cloud strategies, but in reality, we are getting it wrong. Those who viewed hybrid cloud as a single entity — public and private — simply glossed over the business realities of creating, deploying and, most importantly, securing applications in a blended environment. Those who viewed hybrid cloud strategies as a mix of public clouds and private clouds — each with its own domain, where applications reside in one or the other — incorrectly labeled that architecture hybrid cloud. In reality, it’s multi-cloud.

Overlooking the challenges of hybrid cloud strategies

The first group, which believes a single cloud can span both public and private domains, tends to gloss over the different aspects of operating and managing that resource. How are administrators going to ensure security across multiple domains? What about the management tools that will vary between the two platforms?

Simply put, how many of us who switch between Mac and PC get frustrated by “delete” and “move to trash,” which are different ways to say the same thing? Now, imagine that at cloud scale. While many people like the idea of the elasticity of a hybrid cloud to scale out almost infinitely, how many applications truly need that much capacity on demand?

There are a few use cases where hybrid cloud strategies might make sense, primarily bursting applications out during peak load. The overly tired examples typically involve a retailer or tax firm with a highly seasonal business or a highly targeted business cycle. But is having to manage and drive consistencies all year across the two environments worth it for that short period?

So far, Microsoft is about the only true play here, with its public Azure cloud and private Azure Stack. This strategy gives IT the ability to create an application in a private environment and move to public, or vice versa, relying on the same security, development, libraries and management tools. This is about as close as many will actually come to a hybrid cloud. But, even here, most applications, while they can move from domain to domain, will probably live in one domain or the other 99% of the time.

Four cloud options

Time to change how cloud deployments are described

The second group, of which I was a staunch member, simply got the naming wrong. Most businesses will use a mixture of public and private cloud resources, depending on their applications. Those applications with regulatory constraints or data privacy considerations will probably remain in the private domain. This is also where many will see the more differentiated applications for their business — the tools that help define their business and how they deliver products and services to their customers.

The more we rally around nebulous buzzwords, the more we doom our projects to constant challenges.

Horizontal and nondifferentiated applications will probably move to a public cloud based on economics or a variety of other factors. In the future, most businesses will use multiple cloud resources. This is why hybrid cloud, as a description of this environment, is so wrong. Multi-cloud is a better description. The industry needs to get on board with this.

A great example is in the auto world. If you own one Toyota Prius, you run on electricity or gasoline — a hybrid car strategy. But if you own an all-electric Tesla and a gas-chugging Ford F-150, even though you are using both gas and electric, each is discrete — this is a multi-car strategy.

A complicating factor for a public-private combined entity is the cost and complexity of data transmission. It is expensive and time-consuming to move data back and forth within a hybrid environment. Most businesses are choosing to locate the compute closer to the data and simply send back the results and exceptions, rather than shuttle data back and forth between locations. This dynamic is what is causing a growth of edge computing — moving the compute closer to the network edge, closer to where the data is being collected.

It is time for the industry to change the way it defines hybrid cloud. There will be hybrid clouds, but they will be far fewer and far more limited. The phrase multi-cloud needs to take more prominence in IT’s lexicon, because the need to accurately define the environment will pay dividends in accelerating those plans by removing confusion. The more we rally around nebulous buzzwords and marketing terms, the more we doom our projects to constant challenges and questions. Clarity will help drive better outcomes.

Reduxio Systems’ storage wows human resources specialist

Reduxio Systems’ storage has gone from curiosity to mainstay at human resources software firm CPP Inc.

The maker of personality-assessment software initially installed Reduxio HX550 hybrid arrays to support standard systems for development, quality assurance and testing. Impressed by the performance, CPP has promoted the Reduxio SAN to handle mission-critical applications and a select number of primary workloads.

The plan is to eventually move most tier-one storage from existing SAN environments to Reduxio to take advantage of its capacity, native data protection and performance scaling, said Mike Johnson, director of global infrastructure and desktop support at CPP, based in Sunnyvale, Calif.

“I’ve always figured there isn’t one storage device that gives you all three of those things, but it’s looking like Reduxio Systems has the potential,” Johnson said.

CPP has two Reduxio HX550 hybrid arrays at its main data center in Sunnyvale and two others at a newly opened facility in the U.K.

Reduxio hybrid flash augments all-flash IBM V9000 primary SAN

The Reduxio HX550 Enterprise Flash Storage hybrid flagship is a dual-controller system housed in a 2U Seagate server chassis. The system accommodates 24 disk drives or SAS-connected SSDs, with enterprise multi-level cell NAND flash SSDs for 40 TB of raw block storage. Effective capacity scales to 150 TB of usable storage with Reduxio NoDup global inline data deduplication.

Reduxio Systems deduplicates data in 8K blocks in a pre-memory buffer. A unique timestamp is applied to each block in the databases. A separate database for metadata includes log data on which blocks received writes and when.

Until 2002, CPP was known as Corporate Psychologists Press Inc. The firm sells human resources software to corporations and career-minded individuals, and it’s best known for its flagship Myers-Briggs Type Indicator-certified assessment.

Over the years, CPP has used storage appliances from Dell EMC, NetApp, Hitachi Vantara and other vendors. CPP still uses an all-flash IBM V9000 SAN to support a Microsoft Dynamics AX enterprise resource planning system and related production systems, as well as a scale-out Coho Data DataStream SAN to increase capacity or performance on the fly.

Although the IBM V9000 is “one of the highest-performing SANs I’ve ever seen,” Johnson said it has limited capacity for all of CPP’s primary storage. The Coho Data storage is “plug-and-play,” but requires the upfront expense of customized Arista network switches.

Compounding the challenge is the demise of Coho Data, which went out of business in September.

Johnson credited a reseller with introducing him to Reduxio Systems. CPP had already purchased the IBM and Coho Data gear by that time, but Johnson was intrigued enough by Reduxio to give it a test run.

“I was willing to put it in as our tier-three storage device, but I didn’t know how it would perform,” he said. “Once we saw the performance was pretty good, we promoted it to our mission-critical workloads.”

Reduxio BackDating aids faster disaster recovery

Johnson’s IT team did further testing and research designed to answer a key question: Could Reduxio storage reliably support CPP’s moneymaking activities? Johnson said he was pleased at Reduxio’s ability to deliver primary storage performance without relying exclusively on flash.

Johnson said he also likes the native data protection in Reduxio’s TimeOS operating system, especially the BackDating that allows recovery to any-point-in-time snapshot. Reduxio Systems recently added NoMigrate replication and NoRestore copy data management.

“We decided our revenue-generating systems could reside on the Reduxio storage device,” Johnson said. “Our plan going forward is to put all our revenue-generating systems on Reduxio and reduce our recovery point objectives and recovery time objectives from hours to days to seconds to minutes.”

Misconfigured Amazon S3 buckets expose sensitive data

The cloud has simplified accessing compute and storage resources, making life a lot easier for application developers, IT administrators and company employees. However, when end users fail to properly secure the cloud, it can put data at greater risk.

In the past year, cybersecurity firms have reported on a rash of misconfigured Amazon S3 buckets that have left terabytes of corporate and top-secret military data exposed on the internet. This misconfiguration allows anyone with an Amazon account access to the data simply by guessing the name of the Simple Storage Service (S3) bucket instance.

Storage and cybersecurity experts point to IT administrators and end users as the culprits. Users have the option of protecting each storage block with an access control list (ACL) to keep data private, share it for reading or share it for reading and writing. Experts claim data was left exposed because the ACLs were configured to allow any user with an Amazon Web Services (AWS) account to access the data. The Amazon S3 buckets were not reconfigured to restrict access.

“Maybe that is too much power for the end users,” said Chris Vickery, director of cyber-risk research at cybersecurity firm UpGuard, based in Mountain View, Calif. “You really can’t put the blame on Amazon. The buckets are secured by default. It’s madness by the end user.”

In November, UpGuard reported two incidents of sensitive data left exposed in Amazon S3 buckets belonging to the United States Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), as well as the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and Pacific Command.

Nearly 100 GB of critical data belonging to INSCOM was found in unsecured cloud storage repositories, including information labeled “top secret” and “NOFORN,” which means no foreign nationals should be able to view the data. The largest unsecured file found was an Oracle Virtual Appliance that contained a virtual hard drive and Linux-based operating system likely used for receiving Defense Department data from a remote location. UpGuard found top-secret data was tied to the defunct defense contractor Invertix.

“Also exposed within [the S3 storage] are private keys used for accessing distributed intelligence systems belonging to Invertix,” according to an UpGuard report. “Plainly put, the digital tools needed to potentially access the networks relied upon by multiple Pentagon intelligence agencies to disseminate information should not be something available to anybody entering a URL into a web browser.

“Although the UpGuard cyber-risk team has found and helped to secure multiple data exposures involving sensitive defense intelligence data, this is the first time classified information has been among the exposed data,” the report stated.

The CENTCOM data exposure involved a Pentagon contractor who did intelligence work and left an archive of 1.8 million publicly accessible social media posts exposed in Amazon S3 buckets. The military characterized that data breach as “benign,” because it was data scraped from around the world identifying persons of interest by the military.

These incidents are part of a series in which high-profile companies left data in Amazon S3 buckets exposed because the ACLs were configured to allow any user with an Amazon account to gain access to the data. The companies caught up in the problem include telco giant Verizon, U.S. government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, consulting firm Accenture, World Wrestling Entertainment and Dow Jones.

Storage and cybersecurity experts agree this is not Amazon’s fault. The AWS S3 buckets are designed with top-level security by default when the storage instances are created. The user has control over what level of access to assign each bucket.

“Have we given too much power to the end user? Yeah, but we also gave them keyboards,” said George Crump, founder of Storage Switzerland. “People have to learn. I guess it’s like the seat belt law. Enough people have to go through a windshield before they do something about it. Organizations have to monitor cloud assets the same way they monitor their data center assets.

Organizations have to monitor cloud assets the same way they monitor their data center assets.
George Crumpfounder, Storage Switzerland

“There are more than a few tools out there that monitor open buckets,” Crump added. “I hate to have Amazon blameless in this, but they are. It would be like blaming the car manufacturer because people are not using their seat belts.”

Earlier this month, Amazon added new S3 encryption and security features to help address the data breaches. These features include default encryption that mandates all objects in a bucket must be stored in an encrypted form.

Amazon also added permission checks that display a prominent indicator next to each Amazon S3 bucket that is publicly accessible. Cross-region replication with a Key Management Service enables objects that are encrypted with keys to be replicated, and a detailed inventory report includes the encryption status of each object.

David Monahan, managing director for security and risk management at Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo., said consumers who are using cloud services need to ask more questions about where their data is being stored and get more details on how it is being protected.

“This is a data-owner issue,” he said. “Some owners are relying on the names of the bucket being private. That is insufficient. Others are creating permissions and then not following the rule of least privilege and making the data too open. To them, I say, ‘Stop being lazy.’ Others may not understand how the system access controls work. They have to learn before putting real data out there.”

Software Reviews | Computer Software Review

MSRP: $7.00


Bottom Line: Human resources (HR) software and management system BambooHR is not the cheapest option but you get what you pay for, namely, well-organized, visually appealing tools that are simple to set up and run. An open API allows the software to be integrated with a company’s existing HR tech vendors, and the performance review function fits with the way more companies are working.

Read Full Review

Software Reviews | Computer Software Review

MSRP: $7.00


Bottom Line: Human resources (HR) software and management system BambooHR is not the cheapest option but you get what you pay for, namely, well-organized, visually appealing tools that are simple to set up and run. An open API allows the software to be integrated with a company’s existing HR tech vendors, and the performance review function fits with the way more companies are working.

Read Full Review

On-premises pricing pushes Atlanta to Oracle ERP Cloud

The city of Atlanta is moving to Oracle’s full cloud for human resources, procurement and finance. To help win the deal, the city released eyebrow-raising cost estimates that show the city has little choice but to move to Oracle’s ERP/HCM Cloud platform.

Atlanta is a longtime Oracle user. Its last big ERP upgrade was around 2007. This time, it was planning on a hybrid cloud adoption, keeping some systems on premises and others in Oracle ERP Cloud. The city didn’t believe all of the Oracle ERP Cloud offerings were on par with the on-premises systems, hence the hybrid approach. This view changed as the planning progressed.

For Oracle, getting customers to migrate to its cloud platform is a top priority. But the financial incentives behind these deals are rarely disclosed, at least until Atlanta offered a glimpse at some of the cost estimates.

The Atlanta City Council finance committee was shown a series of slides that sketched out the financial case for a full cloud approach. Officials were told that the 10-year total cost of ownership difference between Oracle’s E-Business Suite (EBS)/HCM Cloud and Oracle’s full ERP/HCM Cloud was $26 million. That’s how much more the city would spend over a 10-year period if it went with a hybrid approach.

Oracle’s licensing terms between the two platforms were starkly different. Under the hybrid approach, the annual licensing would see a “4% increase per year for EBS/HCM Cloud hybrid (until year 10) vs. 0% increase until year 5” for the ERP Cloud. That full ERP Cloud saw a one-time 3% increase in year six over the 10-year agreement.

Analysts and consultants who have seen the slides say there’s not enough information to tell, exactly, how these estimates were calculated. However, the differences in licensing costs between hybrid, on-premises and full cloud ERP delivers a clear message.

“I assumed that this was Oracle’s way of financially motivating the decision they wanted,” said Marc Tanowitz, a managing director at Pace Harmon, a management consultancy that advises firms making similar decisions.

The Atlanta mayor’s office declined to make an official available for an interview or to answer written questions. A spokeswoman said the city would not comment. In addition, Oracle said it couldn’t discuss a specific customer agreement.

At the start of this project, Oracle’s HCM Cloud was described by Atlanta officials as mature and ready for full cloud deployment. The city initially concluded that there were functionality gaps in the finance system, and it intended to keep Oracle’s R12 financials on premises. That changed.

“Over the last six to eight months, Oracle has released new functionality to where we feel like those gaps will be addressed,” said John Gaffney, the city’s deputy chief financial officer, according to a video — discussion at the Oct. 25 meeting begins at about 2:17 in the video — of a recent city council finance meeting. That meant recommending a full cloud option.

Atlanta City Council members at the meeting didn’t probe the licensing difference. Gaffney, in presenting the savings, told them that “you’ve got lower costs that are primarily driven by your subscription cost being lower. You also don’t have to pay any hosting fees.”

Tanowitz said there were some things about Atlanta’s Oracle ERP Cloud project that were clear; the apparent 10-year agreement with Atlanta, for instance. Vendors have generally been seeking longer terms.

“That piece of it didn’t surprise us,” he said.

The first-year implementation cost for hybrid and full Oracle ERP Cloud were roughly equal, at about $19 million. That figure also wasn’t surprising to Tanowitz because there is a cost to migration. But Tanowitz said he struggles to understand why the on-premises deployment is escalating in cost faster than the full Oracle ERP Cloud deployment.

“If you think about the cloud cost, what are you paying for in a cloud subscription? You’re paying for some intellectual property and you’re paying for some hosting,” said Tanowitz. “That’s what’s under that number, if you peel it apart.”

“Why would an environment that I’m hosting on my own — presumably with the EBS deal — be going up at this rate?” he asked.

There has been a long-standing debate in IT about whether on premises is less costly than full cloud approaches. Frank Scavo, president of Computer Economics, a research firm, said the decision on these approaches can go either way.

“If the data center is underutilized, adding another application may not add much cost,” he said. “But if I need to build a new data center or add significant capacity, it will be much more costly. There is no right answer.”

By aligning sales and marketing, Mizuho OSI could sell faster

SAN FRANCISCO — To take on larger competitors with more resources, medical equipment manufacturer Mizuho OSI had to create a faster track from lead generation to sales.

To work smarter and faster to identify leads and close sales, the Union City, Calif., company broke down its internal silos, deciding that aligning sales and marketing departments would be its best bet.

“We had a gap in collaboration,” said Greg Neukirch, vice president of sales and marketing at Mizuho OSI, during a session at Dreamforce 2017 this week. “We needed to be smarter and faster and improve our customer experience beyond what we did in the past.”

Neukirch added that the company did extensive research to see which software tools could aid in aligning sales and marketing. It ultimately chose Salesforce for CRM and Salesforce Pardot for marketing automation.

“We had a sales team wanting more and a marketing team trying to give more, and we looked at how we could leverage Salesforce and Pardot to close the gap between those two functions,” Neukirch said.

Mizuho OSI adopted Salesforce in February 2016 and Pardot a year later, working to ensure close collaboration between the sales and marketing departments.

Bringing sales, marketing together

We had a sales team wanting more and a marketing team trying to give more, and we looked at how we could leverage Salesforce and Pardot to close the gap.
Greg Neukirchvice president of sales and marketing, Mizuho OSI

Breaking down internal silos for businesses is a common problem, because sales and marketing departments have historically had different objectives. But as consumers have become more educated through the buying process, aligning sales and marketing is a strategy that can bring a company more customers — it’s not an easy process, however.

“There was skepticism in our sales department,” Neukirch said. “They didn’t know the products or understand why they needed to do something different. But it was up to us to help communicate that value.”

New Salesforce Sales Cloud features are designed to make it easier for customers to better align sales and marketing. With the Lightning Data feature, for example, companies can discover and import new potential customers, according to Brooke Lane, director of product management for Sales Cloud.

“In today’s setting, we want to quickly close deals and also better understand customers,” Lane said. “With [the new feature] Campaign Management, it can help you show the impact of marketing activities on the sales pipeline. We want to continue bridging Salesforce and Pardot so you’re not troubled with tasks.”

Addressing implementation challenges

Mizuho OSI’s transition to a more efficient, modern customer journey — one that shortened the time for a prospect to become a customer — hasn’t come without challenges.

“Sales can’t do things on its own,” said Chris Lisle, director of North American sales at Mizuho OSI. “But the biggest hurdle was getting sales to adopt a new tool.”

Mizuho OSI ran into some hurdles during the implementation — mainly the time it takes to successfully change how the organization is run.

“We took time to identify the problems we wanted to solve — mainly that our customer journey was outdated,” said Kevin McCallum, director of marketing at Mizuho OSI. “We needed an aggressive timeline for our deployment, but however long you think it’ll take, it takes longer than that.”

But by aligning sales and marketing departments at the start of the project, Mizuho OSI was able to start modernizing its customer journey.

“Sales had full visibility with what we were doing and what we were working on and helped through the journey,” McCallum said.

Neukirch agreed, calling the alignment essential.

“To get that collaboration and see the departments come together, we were able to move faster,” Neukirch said.

And while the company is still aligning sales and marketing, it has seen anecdotal benefits of the change.

“What we did in the last nine months exceeded our expectations,” Neukirch said. “We were following that vision and executing on the deliverables and making sure we kept focus with how the customer could interact with us better and faster, so we’d have the opportunity to outpace the folks we’re in market against.”

Google, Cisco pitch hybrid cloud benefits for modern apps

Once unheard of, deals to bridge public and private cloud resources have become the norm. The latest, an agreement between Google and Cisco, aims to bring hybrid cloud benefits to modern application frameworks.

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and Cisco this week said they will offer a hybrid cloud service next year that incorporates an amalgam of the two companies’ orchestration, management, networking and security tools. This joint engineering effort is the latest acknowledgement that, despite the torrid growth of public cloud, most IT shops aren’t ready to ditch their private data centers any time soon.

The hybrid offering follows the lead of Amazon Web Services (AWS), which has teamed with VMware to bring vSphere environments to its public cloud, and Microsoft, which has collaborated with several hardware vendors to build a scaled-down version of its Azure public cloud to run in customers’ private data centers. The VMware-AWS deal, as well as Google’s own efforts with Nutanix, is more akin to a lift-and-shift strategy to port legacy assets to the cloud, but this deal focuses on cloud-native workloads.

The service will rely on two open source projects to dynamically link private and public resources: Kubernetes, the Google-led container orchestration tool, and Istio, a platform developed by IBM, Google and Lyft to connect and manage networks of microservices. Google acquisition Apigee will manage APIs to securely communicate between environments. Users will be able to write their code once and maintain consistency between Google Container Engine and HyperFlex, Cisco’s hyper-converged private cloud infrastructure, but choose their own management, software, hypervisor and OS. A brokerage service will connect in-house workloads to big data and machine learning services on Google Cloud Platform.

A cloud-native, developer-friendly spin on hybrid cloud makes a lot of sense for Google, and this deal represents Google’s best response yet to Microsoft’s and Amazon’s efforts in this space, said Melanie Posey, an analyst at 451 Research. Cisco is a particularly good partner because it introduces Google’s cloud to an enterprise market where GCP use lags, she said. And Cisco has done more than any other traditional server vendor to enable hybrid architectures by building or acquiring tools for DevOps, orchestration and end-to-end management.

Now we’re getting to true hybrid [cloud] where you can share services on both ends.
Jeff Katoanalyst, Taneja Group

“If you put all those things together on the Cisco side and everything Google has on their side related to developer tools and frameworks, I think you get the closest thing to maybe an organic on-prem, off-prem hybrid cloud story,” she said.

Because the service relies on many of Google’s open source projects, it could provide a model for other on-premises vendors into Google’s hybrid cloud framework in the future, Posey said.

Each vendor’s services can be bundled or purchased separately, with Cisco acting as the technical support lead. Cisco software purchased for this service will be licensed on one- to five-year subscriptions and hardware sold through perpetual licenses. Google services, which can be purchased through subscription or pay as you go, will be bought directly through Google or a GCP reseller.

Beta testing begins early next year, with general availability expected in the second half of 2018.

Hybrid cloud benefits push partnerships

The concept of shared resources between public and private cloud environments is not new, though most of the early promises of bursting and other seamless integrations largely fizzled. Instead, most cloud usage today — public or private — consists of siloed architectures, even as enterprises increasingly use multiple clouds.

In 451’s latest surveys, just 17% of respondents who said they use the cloud indicated they also have a hybrid cloud setup, which the firm describes as workloads that share resources dynamically across public and private clouds. Still, that percentage is rising, and IT vendors at both ends of the spectrum have sought to provide more hybrid cloud benefits to their customers.

This string of collaborations represents a realization that these companies need each other. Many traditional IT vendors were reluctant to provide a bridge to the public cloud upstarts that were eating into their bottom lines. Several, such as Cisco, tried and failed to build public clouds. Private data centers remain the dominant IT architecture model, but the continued growth of the public cloud market has left them scrambling to remain relevant.

Meanwhile, many public cloud companies scoffed at the idea of hybrid, but have come around to focus on an enterprise market that’s unprepared or unwilling to relinquish all in-house resources. The result is a handful of strategic partnerships intended to resolve competitive disadvantages on both sides.

“The hype and the promise [is] that this stuff would work together … but, in reality, that hasn’t worked all that well, especially with the big three public clouds,” said Jeff Kato, an analyst at Taneja Group in Hopkinton, Mass. “There’s been a renewed focus on getting this right, and also a recognition that hybrid is really what customers want.”

There’s finally some meat on the bones with these hybrid offerings, and for Google, this hybrid partnership is about extending the focus to modernization and container-based workloads.

“Now we’re getting to true hybrid where you can share services on both ends,” Kato said. “In this case, by focusing on Kubernetes, they’re able with container infrastructure and Cisco’s networking capabilities to do that end-to-end networking and provisioning and coordinate on premises and the cloud.”

Trevor Jones is a senior news writer with SearchCloudComputing and SearchAWS. Contact him at tjones@techtarget.com.

Introducing Education Resources, a source of Open Educational Resources within Office 365 |

Today we are launching the pilot between Open Up Resources and Microsoft Education. Open Up Resources is a nonprofit working to develop the highest quality full-course OER curricula, Common Core aligned, and provided for free to promote instructional equity. This curriculum was developed by Illustrative Mathematics, and currently covers 6th – 8th Grade Math. Any teacher can now easily sign up to use the Open Up Resources curriculum. With today’s announcement, Microsoft Education is offering this curriculum through OneNote , Forms and custom dashboards. This solution is free and can be used by teachers and students on any platform and device. 

The Office 365 Education solution takes the Open Up Resources curriculum and assessments and puts together a free solution that pulls together content, assessments and analytics.

  • Content: Organize all your class materials, including Open Up Resources, into one digital notebook with OneNote Class Notebooks. Then, create more compelling, interactive content that you can easily collaborate on with students and colleagues.  
  • Assessments: Quickly create basic surveys, quizzes, questionnaires, registrations and more with Microsoft Forms. Teachers can view results as they are submitted, and data can be easily exported to Excel for grading or be viewed in dashboards.
  • Dashboards: Monitor and analyze a broad range of live data from content engagement through easy-to-use dashboards, interactive reports, and compelling data visualizations with custom Dashboards provided by Microsoft Education.

To see how these three pieces tie together, we’ve put together a short video

Using the custom OneNote Class Notebook to access and deliver the Open Up Resources curriculum:

  • Teachers can distribute the Illustrative Mathematics course materials on any device via OneNote.
  • Students can write, draw, collaborate and save their work automatically in a personal digital notebook.
  • Real-time collaboration can occur around the materials: teacher-to-class, teacher-to-student, and student-to-student.
  • OneNote Class Notebooks integrate seamlessly with common LMS and SIS platforms.

          Open Up Resources content delivered in OneNote Class Notebooks

Last spring, both Buncombe County and Evergreen school districts engaged in a private pilot using the Open Up Resources materials in a OneNote Class Notebook. Here is what Stephanie Brucker, District Tech Coordinator from Buncombe County had to say:

 “The integration of the Open Up Mathematics resources into OneNote has allowed teachers in our district to truly integrate our one-to-one devices and mathematics in a powerful way to advance student learning. Utilizing OneNote and Illustrative Math together in the classroom has opened up a gateway to each student’s thoughts and ideas throughout the units. The collaboration of materials between OneNote and Open Up has actually increased the practice of mathematical discourse simultaneously with our digital initiative.”

Open Up Resources assessments have been integrated with Microsoft Forms. When a Class Notebook is created, the Forms are all automatically pre-installed into the Educators Forms library in Office 365 Education, ready to be distributed as assessments. Through assessments, delivered in Forms, benefits include:

  • Easy digital assessments
  • One-click assignment and efficient scoring
  • Support for differentiation through rapid, formative assessment insight.

Sample Open Up Resources assessments delivered in Microsoft Forms

For the pilot program, Microsoft Education has created custom dashboards that are tied to the Open Up Resources Class Notebooks and Forms data. =These dashboards will allow teachers to gain insights into the assessment data and trends.


Example analytics dashboard, pulling from the OneNote Class Notebook and Microsoft Forms assessment data

To help teachers and schools get up and running, we have put together Getting Started materials on the Microsoft Support site which includes instructions and support information.. 

If you or your district would like to participate in a pilot,

  • Go to the Open Up Resources site and sign up
  • Log in to the site
  • Request materials and check the box for “piloting Microsoft OneNote (see example below)


We are excited for school districts to start piloting this new solution across Content (OneNote), Assessments (Forms) and Analytics.  Both OneNote and Forms are part of Office 365 for Education, which is free for teachers and students with a valid school email address.  


Microsoft Education @MicrosoftEDU

Microsoft OneNote for Education @OneNoteEDU

Open Up Resources @OpenUpResources

Illustrative Mathematics @IllustrateMath