Thanks to SWITCHengines, universities will soon be able to treat virtual networks as part of their own network.
SWITCHengines was developed first and foremost to meet the needs of researchers and teaching staff. The service offers easy access to flexible computing and storage resources for scientific work. However, it has also become clear that SWITCHengines can be useful for a university's central IT department. SWITCH is following this approach, for example, in the Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) work package of the SCALE-UP project, part of the swissuniversities P-2 cooperation project. The aim of this work package is to enhance existing infrastructures by increasing redundancy with the aid of SWITCHengines. Virtual machines can be integrated into the campus network, and internal services can be accessed easily behind the firewall. SWITCH is working with various universities of applied sciences so as to have a clear picture of real-world use cases for VPC.
Tom Schönenberger, Head of IT at FHS St. Gallen, University of Applied Sciences, is looking into the topic of georedundancy. The intention here is to ensure that university operations can continue even if there is a major disruption like a fire in the main computing centre or a lengthy power cut over a wide area. Besides operating a classic secondary computing centre at the St. Gallen University of Teacher Education, he is investigating how suitable SWITCHengines is for this purpose.
Several FHS St. Gallen servers have been replicated in SWITCHengines as a trial: a Wordpress-based IT portal, the public web server (IBM Domino) and a service monitoring tool (PRTG). These servers can be integrated transparently into the university's productive environment behind the existing load balancer.
This work has brought to light a number of limitations as regards working in the cloud:
These limitations have led to the main focus of tasks in the VPC work package:
The possibilities SWITCHengines offers today are already enough to satisfy some of FHS St. Gallen's requirements. The work that will be done this year as part of the VPC work package will allow SWITCHengines clients to integrate the service even more effectively into their campus network. This will mean that SWITCHengines can be used to create bespoke solutions that would be hard to achieve with commercial cloud providers.