To maintain a digital school operation during the pandemic, the city of Wolfsburg commissioned LINET to implement and operate virtual classrooms that combine open-source conferencing tools, digital whiteboards, and video, audio, and chat capabilities. A “breathing” cloud infrastructure that automatically shuts down resources during non-instructional times is designed to contribute to efficiency and cost.
An educational platform used by up to 12,000 students must be secure and, above all, scalable. In addition, the project has to comply with the strict data protection requirements in the education sector. To ensure that students from rural areas and regions with weak Internet access can also participate, it should be made possible to also dial into the virtual classroom by telephone as an alternative to online access.
gridscale’s DSGVO-compliant and extremely powerful cloud servers. LINET uses the full scope of automation of the gridscale platform and thus achieves a high degree in the elasticity of the provided applications and the open source conferencing tool BigBlueButton. The control of the infrastructure is fully automated via powerful scripts and the gridscale RESTful API.
Flexibly scalable for 12,000+ students
100% DSGVO compliant
Automated resource allocation
gridscale’s IT infrastructures are located in Germany and are therefore also subject to the strict local data protection guidelines. This was a decisive argument for gridscale in this project.
Timo Springmann, CEO LINET Services GmbH
LINET Service GmbH – a gridscale partner
The IT system house from Braunschweig has been providing small and medium-sized enterprises as well as schools and school authorities in the region with secure, stable and solution-oriented IT services and infrastructures for over 20 years.
To maintain a digital school operation during the pandemic, the city of Wolfsburg commissioned LINET to implement virtual classrooms.
The LINET solution combines open-source conferencing tools, digital whiteboards and video, audio and chat functions: A forward-looking project for the expansion of a virtual learning environment that complies in all areas with the strict data protection requirements in the education sector. The technical backbone is gridscale’s highly secure and rapidly scalable cloud platform.
Interview with Timo Springmann and Moritz Bunkus
CEO and CTO of LINET Services GmbH
The city of Wolfsburg has commissioned you to implement virtual classrooms in 2020. You chose the gridscale cloud as the infrastructure. Why did you choose gridscale and what were the particular challenges?
Timo Springmann: To enable up to 12,000 Wolfsburg students to homeschool, we needed an infrastructure that was scalable, secure and DSGVO-compliant. In addition, to enable students from rural areas to participate in classes, we needed to integrate a telephone system. Working closely with the gridscale team, we were able to find a solution for everything.
Data protection in particular is always an important issue for a public organization. What were the general conditions for you here?
We received the specifications directly from the city of Wolfsburg. For data protection reasons, it quickly became clear that video conferencing solutions from US tech companies were out of the question. This eliminated the classic US providers for processing and storing the data. gridscale’s IT infrastructures are located in Germany and are therefore also subject to the strict data protection guidelines here. This was therefore a decisive argument for gridscale in this project.
Were there other advantages of the gridscale infrastructure besides the security aspects?
Moritz Bunkus: The machines’ computing power, which can be quickly and easily adapted to increasing numbers of users, was also a decisive factor for us. The conference nodes, via which users connect and audio and video processing takes place, are the scaling element here. At the moment, up to 1500 users can connect via these nodes. Within a few minutes, we can add additional machines to make room for another 1000 users. So we can scale up at any time as needed.
Doesn’t this create problems with policies, connectivity, etc.?
The RESTful API of gridscale takes a lot of work off our shoulders by automating process flows. For example, it takes care of provisioning, making sure that all servers are set up the same way, have the same network configuration, and so on. This keeps the effort for such tasks within limits.
You are also responsible for managed cloud services on behalf of the city of Wolfsburg. In the meantime, you have also taken over this area for other gridscale customers. How has this cooperation developed?
Timo Springmann: During the project in Wolfsburg, we noticed how well LINET and gridscale work together. So it made sense to expand this cooperation. gridscale can now concentrate on the role of technology provider, while we take over the managed services part. Most of our customers rely on Linux, which also speaks in favor of gridscale as a partner, since gridscale can draw on extensive knowledge in this area.
How did you communicate the start of the collaboration to your customers?
We have communicated transparently that customers are now being supported by a new service provider, but that gridscale is still part of the team in the background. The advantage for customers is clear: as a service provider, we can proactively help the customer if there are difficulties and escalate to gridscale if necessary.
And what advantages does the partnership bring for gridscale?
LINET supports gridscale in tapping companies in the SME sector as partners. We are locally oriented and can approach the right companies here. In particular, we address SMEs in this way. For smaller companies, common cloud models are often too expensive, gridscale’s flexible model for use and payment suits these companies. We establish the contact and take care of the integration.
The gridscale Cloud Server
Quickly scalable, absolutely reliable and with German data protection – the gridscale cloud offers IaaS for sophisticated IT solutions.
Fast deployment – The gridscale platform is one of the fastest in the world. Even complex server scenarios can be deployed within seconds.
Seamless scaling – CPU, RAM and storage can be automated and scaled on the fly. You always have the performance you need.
Attractive prices, no contract commitments – With the pay-as-you-go pricing model, customers pay by the minute only for the resources they actually use.
Maximum automation capability – All components are controllable via RESTful API and are developer-friendly. gridscale supports full orchestration capability of its cloud server infrastructures.
Highest security – gridscale servers run in certified high-security data centers. Our security standards are certified according to ISO 27.001 and comply with the strictest German data protection guidelines.
Interview with Felix Kronlage-Dammers
Head of Development at gridscale
What are the technical advantages that a platform like ours offers for a provider like LINET?
Especially for a project like the virtual classrooms, it is important that our server infrastructure runs at maximum performance and speed. LINET GmbH is a classic IaaS customer. A decisive plus with gridscale is the powerful and simple automation capability.
So access to the platform was very straightforward for LINET?
Yes, and that’s exactly how it should be. LINET benefits from the fact that our infrastructure can be completely orchestrated from the outside. LINET has developed powerful scripts that allow them to control the platform automatically via our API without having to select everything manually in the panel.
What does that look like in the case of the school project?
In the early morning, additional servers are started up script-controlled so that all capacities are available when all students arrive. In the afternoon, some of the servers are shut down again because their performance is no longer needed. This is time-controlled and automatic.
A city like Wolfsburg also saves immensely on costs. Many instances just run during school hours. Outside of the core time, only a part is in operation for the remaining students. No one has to pay for resources that are not used.