Scalable Cloud-Infrastructure for Homeschooling

Cologne, Germany, April 27th 2021 – The Cologne-based cloud provider gridscale, together with the system integrator LINET Services GmbH, is providing the technical infrastructure of virtual classrooms needed to homeschool more than 12,000 pupils in Wolfsburg.

To provide all pupils with access to education during the pandemic, the city of Wolfsburg commissioned LINET GmbH to set up virtual classrooms in early 2020. For data protection reasons, it quickly became clear that video conferencing solutions from American tech companies were not an option. The open-source conferencing tool BigBlueBotton proved to be a good and secure alternative due to its scope of functions, such as possible breakout sessions and digital whiteboards. The software allows online learning via video, audio and chat function as well as screen sharing. The solution is operated on the gridscale cloud platform, which is located in Frankfurt’s high-security data center with its server, network and storage capacities.

Rising user numbers and customizable computing power

When setting up an educational platform, the focus lies on enabling all pupils to learn remotely at home in a fast and uninterrupted manner. Residencies in rural areas with a weak internet connection pose a particular challenge for the city of Wolfsburg.

“The new cloud platform remains fail-safe and reacts very dynamically responding to changing access loads. In addition to online access, the system allows dialling into the virtual classroom by telephone. This leads to a high level of reliability in our school landscape and ensures good access to educational services,” explains City Councillor for Youth, Education and Integration Iris Bothe.

Process automation via RESTful API

The advantages of almost unlimited scalability became particularly apparent in autumn last year when the user numbers exploded with the second lockdown. No problem, because the gridscale cloud provides the respective capacity and computing power dynamically with sufficient volume at all times. To prevent any manual intervention, all processes have been automated via gridscale’s API interface and integrated into the overall technical architecture as a flexible cloud infrastructure by LINET Services GmbH.

Conference Nodes as a scaling element

At the moment 25 network nodes are working as conference nodes for video and audio processing during video calls – in May 2020, the system started with five network nodes.
In preparation for the increasing demand, 10 further conference nodes have already been pre-installed and can be booted up in a few minutes if need be.

“The scaling element and thus virtually the breathing factor here are the Conference Nodes,” says Felix Kronlage-Dammers, COO of gridscale, explaining the advantages of the cloud architecture. “LINET uses the full scope of automation of the gridscale platform and thus achieves a high degree in the elasticity of the provided environment.”

“We automatically shut down the nodes, the different connection points, overnight as classes are not taking place during that time”, adds Timo Springmann, Managing Director of the LINET Services GmbH. “Thanks to exclusively usage-based billing of the cloud resources, this is by far the most efficient and cost-effective solution for this purpose.”

Long-term partnership

Already since 2017, the city of Wolfsburg has been working with LINET to implement the education portal “wobila”, which is based on the cloud solution UCS@school and is intended to become the central digital learning environment for Wolfsburg’s education landscape.

“Since we had already had very good experiences with LINET during our cooperation for the education portal, it was clear to us that we could also count on the company in this urgent situation,” says Karsten Ostendorf, Head of IT Department at Schools of the School Division at the City of Wolfsburg, explaining the decision to work with LINET and gridscale. “The education portal project was the ideal basis for the rapid implementation of the digital schooling solutions required during the Corona crisis.”

About gridscale

gridscale, IaaS and PaaS provider headquartered in Cologne, stands for easy-to-use and flexible cloud technologies. Via an intuitive interface, the IT infrastructure can be managed by people without in-depth IT know-how and a Kubernetes environment even facilitates the management of cloud-native workloads. Thousands of companies, agencies and managed service providers already rely on gridscale to implement and operate their digital projects – from high-traffic web shops to complex SaaS or enterprise IT solutions. White label options are available to resellers and with the gridscale software ‘Hybrid Core’ data center operators themselves can become cloud providers. gridscale with its about 100 employees is led by Henrik Hasenkamp and Marc Dittmann.