From AWS to the Ukrainian cloud: how Kharkiv University continues education despite the war
Having found itself in the epicentre of hostilities, it was important for the higher educational institution to preserve all the services that provide the educational process. Migration to the cloud, free credits from foreign operators and subsequent transition to GigaCloud saved the educational process.
O. M. Beketov Kharkiv National University of Urban Economy is a state institution of higher education of the IV accreditation level, it is subordinate to the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. The university has been operating since 1922, teaches 8,000 students at 8 faculties and 37 departments. It cooperates with universities and companies from 26 countries.
Beketov Kharkiv National University of Urban Economy
After the start of a full-scale war, Kharkiv found itself under systematic russian shelling. It was extremely important for O. M. Beketov Kharkiv National University of Urban Economy to continue the educational process and do everything possible for students to finish the academic year.
In addition to educational buildings, a museum and sports complex, there was also a server room with equipment in Kharkiv. It hosted all the services that ensure the work of the educational institution. Including: a corporate information system server, a distance learning server, a digital repository, an automated library information system server, an Internet conference server, a scholarship earning, salary and contract payment server, access to the only state electronic database on education (EDEBO), websites, etc.
Due to possible attacks on the buildings of the educational institution, the first priority was to save the IT infrastructure in order to be able to continue working. They decided to transfer the services to the cloud.
Russian troops shelled the university and damaged the educational buildings
During the war, a number of international operators began offering free loans to Ukrainian businesses for hosting in their clouds. The management of the university decided to take advantage of this offer. Initially, technicians migrated their services to Amazon Web Services and the Dutch Cloud Community. Some of the services, in particular the distance learning server, were moved to AWS, and the digital repository server and the corporate information system were moved to the Dutch Cloud Community.
The educational institution worked so for three months. After the end of the free credits, they decided to migrate to the Ukrainian cloud operator. There were several reasons. First, the high cost and difficulties with paying for services. Secondly, delays in the operation of virtual servers. Thirdly, difficulties in interaction with technical support specialists.
Having experience of cooperation with international cloud operators and understanding all the disadvantages and specifics of working with them, the technical specialists of the university put forward a number of requirements to the new provider of cloud infrastructure:
- The data center must be located on the territory of Ukraine.
- The company must build its solutions on modern equipment.
- The cloud operator must provide fast and professional technical support.
GigaCloud fully satisfied all the customer's requirements by providing a public cloud infrastructure based on the OpenStack platform, located at the site in Lviv, for rent. Migration to the cloud took place in several stages. First of all, the most important services were migrated: the distance learning server and the university's corporate information management system. Subsequently, the rest migrated as well. Currently, all services work in the GigaCloud cloud.
Pre-war university life
Currently, all employees of the O. M. Beketov Kharkiv National University of Urban Economy work remotely, and the efficiency of their work has not decreased.
The technical experts named the main advantages of hosting in the cloud: the speed of the virtual servers compared to their own hardware and virtual servers of the Dutch Cloud Community, and much lower latency than AWS, as well.
Technical support that speaks Ukrainian is very important for the specialists of the educational institution. The GigaCloud team helped set up data backup and advised on other issues. Completing a request takes an average of 30 minutes from the moment the ticket is received. Foreign operators responded for more than a day.
The university participates in the webometric rating of the world's universities, which analyzes the degree of representation of the university's activities in the Internet space, the level of influence of the university's publications on global scientific progress, the fullness and "popularity" of the web resources of the higher educational institution, and the trust of Internet users in them. The future ranking of the university is influenced by the speed of its websites. To do this, they must be hosted on modern servers that can withstand peak loads and work without failures. Placing university sites in the GigaCloud cloud will positively affect its reputation.
"I can't imagine how we used to work without the cloud," says Mykola Pan, head of the university's information and computing centre, Ph.D. in technical sciences. We not only saved our services and continued to work in the conditions of war, but also optimized the budget. During this time, several of our servers have gone down and need to be replaced. Hosting in the cloud has freed us from unnecessary costs that are out of date. We are carefully preparing for the new academic year and look forward to meet students.”