July 20, 2021

AIP Story Image

- Part of our Aggie Innovation Platform series

While the past 18 months have brought unimaginable change, the Aggie IT community responded to challenges of the pandemic with unprecedented innovation. 

The Aggie Innovation Platform (AIP), a cloud deployment model launched by the Division of Information Technology in early 2020, exemplifies the innovation of campus IT professionals - innovation that facilitates and propels the mission of Texas A&M University.

Breaking Down Barriers

To create the AIP, the Division of IT brought together three public cloud providers (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google) and combined them with the on-premise Aggie Cloud service to provide the Texas A&M community access to a simple-to-start, flexible, scalable and secure place to create and innovate with minimal barriers or long-term financial investment risk.

“I’ve had researchers coming out of the woodwork,” says Michael Leary, Interim CIO for the College of Engineering. “When I can quickly put them in AIP, IT becomes their partner and doesn’t hinder them or their research.”

While cloud computing has been on the rise for over a decade, there are still many barriers to moving from traditional, on-premise infrastructure to the cloud. AIP’s mission is to remove or reduce as many barriers as possible - making it easy for Texas A&M researchers and campus IT professionals to take full advantage of what the cloud has to offer.

“You can’t compare on-premise hosting to the cloud,” states Andrew Marcontell, AIP lead for the Division of IT. “And with AIP you don’t start at ground zero. We have a lot of infrastructure built for you.”

Cloud technology makes it possible to quickly spin up compute resources when needed and take them down when they aren’t - saving money on infrastructure, power and overhead. Additionally, tailored profiles for each user give more transparency and control over billing and the ability to closely track spending - another large benefit. These benefits, added to AIP’s robust, direct network connection to campus, make research involving large data sets possible. 

“The speed of cloud implementation, the direct campus network connection and the ability to customize environments for each researcher make AIP the ideal platform to host some of our college’s important research initiatives,” agrees Leary.

More Than Powerful Technology

But AIP does more than facilitate cutting-edge research, the AIP community is key to empowering IT professionals across campus.

The AIP team has worked closely with the Texas A&M University community from the very beginning,”  states William Deigaard, Associate Vice President for Enterprise Platforms, Cloud, and Shared Services. “Our goal is to combine cloud technologies with people and processes to help the entire campus community innovate and work more effectively and efficiently.” 

Transportation Services became one of the first campus departments to use AIP when they moved university parking services to the cloud.

“AIP is something we want to use, not something we’re forced to use,” explains Jason Welch, IT Manager for Transportation Services. “For me, the real value of AIP is gathering with like-minded individuals from across the campus to share ideas and solutions.”

Leary agrees, “The AIP technical working group has been a game-changer. There’s nothing like discussing challenges and concerns at a technical level, sharing issues and how we are solving them.”

“When I know the solutions will be there - when I don’t have to worry about standing them up on my own - I can focus on having partner-level conversations with my researchers. Less infrastructure management for my team means more time for problem-solving, collaboration and development.”

Stronger Professionals, Stronger Solutions

Increasing IT professionals’ time to innovate is at the core of AIPs mission. “We’re providing IT pros with a playground. I see AIP as a maker space for the cloud,” enthuses Marcontell. 

Deigaard goes one step farther, “We want the practice of IT to get better. We need to stop clicking and start writing code!” 

Leary has seen the benefit of this collaborative approach on his team. “My developers can build something that not only they can use, but the entire campus can benefit from. It really is a great way to grow the skill sets of our IT professionals.“

Strengthening professional development for IT pros while reducing the burden of on-campus infrastructure and maintenance is a strong one-two punch that’s central to the AIP’s value. And makes the case that the AIP platform and community approach will be critical to the future success and innovation of IT at Texas A&M. 

Welch admits he’s been surprised by the new strategy. “Having run our own systems, it’s hard to adjust to having to reach out, but William’s team doesn’t slow us down if they can help it and Andrew is a wealth of knowledge. I can’t compliment them enough - I’ve been very impressed with their responsiveness - even in the midst of a pandemic.” 

Leary backs him up, “The AIP community has been really valuable and as more units participate, I think we’ll see work realized more quickly as well as more self management. AIP is a great resource with a good team behind it - they are there and willing to help you when you have a problem. Good solutions are coming!”


The Division of IT has partnered with the top public cloud platforms to provide a flexible, secure and compliant cloud computing experience for the Texas A&M community. The Aggie Innovation Platform (AIP) provides access to these robust services at no added overhead costs, and with the added benefit of a Master Contract, customized networking configuration, and campus subdomain and identity management services.

The AIP has been developed to provide the Texas A&M community with access to a simple-to-start, flexible, scalable, secure, and compliant place to create and innovate with minimal barriers or long-term financial investment risk.

If you want to learn more, visit the AIP website. For questions or to order services, email aip@tamu.edu.