The University of Miami Overcomes File Permission Challenges to Enable Remote Learning and Collaboration


In addition to retiring aging hardware, the University of Miami wanted to find a way to further enable remote learning just in case anything serious were to happen to its campus, such as a hurricane. Learn how UM was able to do so by figuring out how to solve their disparate file permissions challenges during their migration project.

The University of Miami

University Profile

The University of Miami (UM) is a private research university established in 1925 with more than 17,000 students. UM has a vibrant and diverse academic community focused on teaching and learning, the discovery of new knowledge, and service to the South Florida region and beyond. The University comprises 11 schools and colleges serving undergraduate and graduate students in more than 180 majors and programs.

Get Rid of Aging NFS Hardware for Multi-Cloud Collaboration

Business Drivers

The University of Miami knew they needed to retired their legacy NFS servers. The hardware was aging and was no longer worth the extra, continuous maintenance costs. UM was interested in moving 128TB to Box as their main content “landing space” for a few reasons. First, UM’s Chief Security Officer deemed it more secure than other cloud storage providers. Second, Box had more granularity to their permissions structures, and permissions were proving to be challenging throughout the migration. And the final icing on the cake for UM was the increased collaboration they would enable by leveraging Box.

UM also planned to migrate about 30TB of content to Google Drive for specific types of data, for instance. Some of the university’s researchers and professors also required Google for department-driven reasons.

So they began their Box and Google Drive multi-cloud migration and planned it out into two phases. UM planned to move most (119TB) of the content within the entire university, as well as the medical system, during the first phase. They would then migrate any additional complex medical files or anything else left behind (10TB) in phase two.

File Permissions Challenges During Migration

The Problem

University of Miami’s IT team quickly discovered that file permissions were going to be challenging throughout the migration. “Permissions in the cloud are way different than your typical network file system or DFS model. So you have to pay attention to what type of permissions you’re going to grant on the cloud,” noted UM’s Senior System Administrator.

Even more, the IT department was also having difficulty moving files due to size limits, workflows, or actual file extensions. Not every workload was “cloud-ready,” and they encountered this problem quite a lot, especially on the medical campus. For example, there were different research systems and platforms that were deeply integrated with a file share, which didn’t work with the cloud provider.

Specific Jobs for Specific Content

The Solution

With the various cloud providers creating multiple issues with permissions, the UM IT team needed migration software that could pull tons of data from different sources. Most files needed to move into Box, and content that wasn’t compatible with Box needed to go into Google Drive. They found that keeping some of the complex content on-premises during the migration bought them time to figure it out.

Overall, the University of Miami migrated 126TB, 11,000 personal folders, and 1,400 department shares to Box, GoogleDrive, OneDrive, and newer on-premises servers. Once the migration was complete, UM could give group access to content, allowing different people to access only the files they need or have permission for.

The University of Miami has found its new collaboration abilities extremely helpful to students and staff. While the university wanted more collaboration to enable remote work anytime, they also wanted to future-proof the campus in case of future emergencies. “Especially right now during COVID-19, this has been helpful to have all of these different tools to be able to collaborate,” said UM’s Sr. IT Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services.


Moving Campus to the Cloud: Common “Gotchas” and Best Practices for Migrating Large Datasets

Want to learn more about how The University of Miami completed its migration and synchronization project? Watch the on-demand webinar to hear their specific tips and tricks on how they overcame the hurdles of their migrations. You’ll also get to hear from Internet2 and Harvey Mudd College as well.

Watch it here.

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