Case: High-speed link with digital test environment via light path(Publicatie)

More and more educational institutions are using cloud services. The Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen has moved part of its digital test environment to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. The connection uses SURFlichtpaden (optical light paths). Henk Weisbeek, operations coordinator for the University's IT office, explains.

05 MAY 2016

Digital test environment in the cloud

Microsoft Azure allows educational and research institutions to locate (parts of) their data centres in the cloud. How does this work at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences? “The main thing we've transferred so far is a large part of our digital test environment,” says Weisbeek. "This is an essential element for any higher professional education institution. The advantage of a cloud solution is that you only pay for what you actually use. We use very big servers, some of the biggest Microsoft can supply. If you inadvertently leave them running for a month you're about 25,000 to 30,000 euro the poorer. We can switch the servers off remotely if we don't need them for digital testing."

Teething problems

Hanze University of Applied Sciences was one of the first Microsoft Azure users through SURFlichtpaden. Weisbeek says that this caused a number of teething problems: "Initially we didn't get the necessary bandwidth. So we had to find out what was causing this, which could have been any of a number of points along the chain. And of course it was also partly to do with the fact that we were one of the first users of the service. During the test phase we took things slowly. But once we moved into production SURF and Microsoft really scaled it up. After that, the issues were resolved in around 2 or 3 weeks. This just goes to show that it's important to tell people what your expectations are."

High-speed link

Teething problems or not, the final solution is working well, says Weisbeek: "We now have a fully redundant 2 Gbit/s path, which is the bandwidth we need for digital testing. This is a light path via a Multi Service Port, which runs across the SURFnet network to our digital test environment at Microsoft. It works perfectly. We would have had to invest a huge amount of money to implement the test environment within our own campus network. We now get the same processing capacity from the cloud at a fraction of the cost."

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Latest modifications 05 May 2016