Kozminski University in the cloud

Migration to the cloud environment is a challenge and at the same time a powerful engine for development of companies and institutions around the world. In March this year Kozminski University completed another stage of the migration process, which is one of the largest implementations of Azure cloud infrastructure in the education segment in Europe.

To be „cloud only”

Faster processes, greater flexibility, independence, and security are just some of the factors that drive the decision to move IT infrastructure to the cloud. Before this can happen, however, it is necessary, first of all, to make a decision and to be ready for the change and the migration process, which, often divided into stages, takes several years. In the case of KU, this journey began in 2016 and was divided into several phases of gradually moving individual elements of the IT back office to the Azure environment. At the beginning of the pandemic, when there was a need to move quickly to remote teaching, the university began using Azure Virtual Desktop, and with it, classes and labs moved to the cloud. After servers were migrated, such as library or www servers, and all new services were created in the scalable Azure space.

In a phase completed in March, the university gained 20 Azure virtual machines to streamline the institution’s internal processes. – Thanks to the recently completed project, classes and labs are conducted using Azure Virtual Desktop environment, and all services used by students during classes are available in the cloud – says Bartosz Kwiatkowski, Technical Director at Senetic, who was responsible for the entire migration process. – Classes with students can be conducted regardless of what is happening offline, a student can connect from any device and location. Students have complete flexibility, laptops can be borrowed from the university or they can work on their own devices. – adds Kwiatkowski.

Azure allows new applications to be developed much faster, as there is no need to prepare on-site infrastructure. – All new services, such as student folders, are already created in the cloud environment – says Tomasz Stojek, Technical Services Director at Senetic – The university gives up paper documentation, which makes the processes faster, more ecological and much more flexible. Queues in front of the Dean’s Office, stamping or printing applications are a thing of the past, which results in greater comfort and time saving. – adds Stojek.

Security and flexibility

Senetic customers appreciate a number of benefits of moving to the cloud, including ease of data access, backup, flexibility of system power and security. Location of data in the cloud gives authorized users remote access to materials, which does not burden the IT infrastructure of the Academy. – explains Dariusz Wronikowski, IT Director, Kozminski University – The possibility of transferring services between institutional cloud users provides additional security in the event of a terrorist threat or a war. Such global backup guarantees that no data will be lost. – adds Wronikowski. The day-to-day operations of a university are largely based on seasonality, which makes it necessary to commit large IT system capacities at some time and not at other times. In Azure, there’s the ability to match resources to increased traffic and reduce energy consumption and costs when there’s less interest. – With the digital transformation and digitization of more processes at the university, Azure provides the ability to increase storage space for specific services without having to replace hardware or purchase additional drives. This is extremely important in the context of the need to store documents for 50 years. – adds Dariusz Wronikowski.

The cloud environment has also changed the students’ perspective, giving them an incredible sense of freedom, flexibility and independence in the first place. – I have everything I need to study at any time of day, any day of the week and practically anywhere in the world. – says Karol, a student at KU – I can do all the errands at the Dean’s Office remotely and I also have access to all my history. Through Microsoft Teams application I can access materials from classes. Now, even extreme situations, associated with a pandemic, do not take away the possibility of studying, and distance learning turns out to be as good as a lecture in a hall for the way of knowledge transfer. In addition, we get to know IT tools in practice, which are now a standard in management. – adds Karol.

A big advantage of digitization and the possibility of remote or hybrid learning are also lower costs for university (e.g. electricity consumption in classrooms) and for students (cost of travel or renting an apartment). Technology is an opportunity for modern private and public entities to stay ahead of the competition, but also to set trends based on greater comfort and work flexibility.

A gateway to far greater possibilities

The cloud creates an environment for companies and institutions to operate much more easily, but it is also a portal to even greater opportunities for growth and digital transformation. It is the key to the implementation of further revolutionary solutions and more advanced transformations. For market leaders, digital transformation is embedded in their growth strategy. – Consistently, for many years now, we have been implementing modern IT solutions which have proven their value all over the world. – says Grzegorz Mazurek, Rector of Kozminski University of Applied Sciences – Higher education, due to extensive connections – in the area of scientific and didactic exchange, recruitment, accreditation processes, etc. – is nowadays relied on networking and global connections. As a university with an emphasis on ESR, we test the usefulness of new solutions from this angle as well. Azure meets these criteria. Cloud solutions for information resource management provide students and faculty, doing internships and studying abroad, with valuable and secure access to their university’s knowledge resources. I would like to emphasize that it is not only about administrative or scientific resources, but also about the sense of identity, the connection with one’s Alma Mater from any point in the world, at any time. – adds Grzegorz Mazurek.

In the case of KU, the cloud has also become a plug for the creation of, among others, a modern hybrid learning room, which allows students to conveniently participate in classes, studying both stationary and remotely. The room is equipped with three cameras that show images of the room, the lecturer and the blackboard. The idea is that the solutions used do not change the lecture mode – the lecturer stands at the blackboard and the integrated teleconference equipment makes it possible to conduct classes without additional headphones or microphones. Students in both modes can see what is being written and hear the teacher – explains Tomasz Stojek from Senetic, the company responsible for the implementation – In addition, the lecturer does not cover the blackboard while writing, the image of the blackboard comes out in front of him, exposing the full transcript to remote students – adds Stojek.

This is just one of many examples of the potential of modern technology and how it has a real impact on the functioning of companies and institutions. The implementation of cloud solutions becomes the beginning of a digital revolution that brings with it a significant acceleration of internal processes. Market leaders are finding this out and with such an additional engine they are overtaking the competition.

Watch the video about our implementation at Kozminski University:

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