The Regensburg University of Applied Sciences (OTH Regensburg) is a strongly technically oriented university with the largest computer science faculty in all of Bavaria. The nearly 240 professors impart a great deal of practical knowledge to the students, which makes OTH Regensburg a very special university. In research, OTH Regensburg, as the third largest university in Bavaria, is involved in the fields of energy and mobility, information and communication, life sciences and ethics, production and systems, and buildings and infrastructure. Sensor technology and digitalisation serve as cross-cutting themes. Many projects are carried out by the faculties on an interdisciplinary basis and in cooperation with business and industry.
The topic of digitalisation plays an important role here. This and the future viability of OTH Regensburg are important topics that have had to be advanced faster than expected due to the Covid 19 pandemic. From the video conferencing system that had already been used for years for teaching, the computer centre at OTH Regensburg had to set up an infrastructure for virtual lectures. But the existing video conferencing system was not scalable. Moreover, some of the lectures only work in combination with the practice rooms, where students can access around 220 specialist applications—from CAD software to special code editors.
With Windows and AVD, we as a university of applied sciences took the first step into the cloud. This opens up new opportunities for us. The project went very well. Thanks to the OCRE framework agreement, commissioning was no problem. Bechtle provided us with well-informed and trained colleagues. In the data centre, we knew nothing about Azure and AVD until now. But with Bechtle, we had a contact partner who showed us everything and knew the procedure.
Prof. Dr Athanassios Tsakpinis, Scientific Director of the Computer Centre, Professor of Business Informatics at the Faculty of Computer Science/Mathematics, Ostbayerische Technische Hochschule Regensburg (OTH Regensburg)
Virtualising them was the challenge, because OTH Regensburg wanted to be able to offer the lectures and exercise rooms to students virtually even after the pandemic. The computer centre at OTH Regensburg initially achieved this with Microsoft Remote Desktop. This required a change of operating system and a Microsoft licence. In addition, there were technical issues with some Windows 10 applications. Also, important tools such as the SCCM could not be used to distribute the software to the more than 700 pool computers. A new solution was needed that could be switched to quickly in times of a pandemic and that could serve as an additional offerring during attendance semesters.
For the OTH Regensburg it was clear that Microsoft Cloud and its applications could be a solution to the problem. But instead of putting the project out to lengthy tender, the computer centre was one of the first universities in Germany to call off the Open Clouds for Research Environments (OCRE) framework agreement of the pan-European internet interconnection network GÉANT. OCRE pursues the ambitious goal of the European research community to make efficient use of the potential of cloud-based services for its work. A framework agreement is the basis for the institutions and companies in 40 European countries to be able to quickly enter the cloud with little administrative effort. In Bechtle, OTH Regensburg found the right service provider with whom to implement the OCRE framework agreement.
At Bechtle, more than 600 trained consultants and sales specialists are trained for Azure and Microsoft 365. With Bechtle’s expertise, OTH Regensburg took the step into the Microsoft Azure Cloud. With the help of Bechtle, OTH Regensburg set up an Azure ID and created the necessary host pools. Currently, the data centre is still using a hybrid solution with Windows 10 and the Azure Cloud with Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD), as the migration of all specialist applications to the cloud environment is costly. To save costs, Bechtle programmed a script that switches off the virtual machines (VM) already in use as soon as they are not in use and restarts them when a student logs on. By mid-March 2022, OTH Regensburg aims to have migrated the entire environment to the cloud together with Bechtle. For this purpose, they need to be able to automatically install the images of the study room computers into the WVD automatically. From the start of the semester in March 2022, all students will then be able to continue attending virtual lectures and work together on projects in the cloud.
OTH Regensburg took advantage of the opportunities offered by OCRE and moved into the cloud. Now OTH Regensburg can switch to the cloud quickly and at any time if necessary. With the flexible concept of the Microsoft Cloud, the data centre can easily switch services on and off. This not only creates space for virtual work, it also makes resources available as needed.