UCLouvain: distance learning and remote working with UDS

by | Apr 22, 2020

The Université Catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain) enabled distance learning and teleworking as a measure against Covid-19. Since they already had a desktop and app virtualization infrastructure with UDS Enterprise in place, they were able to get a secure and efficient remote access system up and running for all groups in the University virtually overnight.

The 37,000 students and 900 teachers and professors of UCLouvain already had access to academic software from anywhere, anytime and using any device through virtual desktops managed and deployed by UDS Enterprise. University researchers were also using this VDI broker to access the virtual applications they need for their projects. Thanks to their bank on this technology, it was quite easy to setup the platform to support a higher demand and provide remote working for all the university staff.

“As we already had a fully operational high availability VDI & vApp environment, the only thing we had to do was increase some resources to guarantee accessibility to eLearning materials with no downtime for students and teachers. Due to our experience with this solutions, we could anticipate possible issues by adapting the infrastructure to the new current needs”, says Laurent Buset, Head of User’s Support Department at UCLouvain.

In order to enable remote working for administrative and services staff, they leveraged their UDS Enterprise unlimited users subscription. Avoiding installation problems on the personal computers was essential to ensure business continuity of all departments in the University. The best way to achieve this was providing access to the software they need for their daily work through virtual desktops. “To give an example, we created a dedicated virtual desktop for the Statistical Area including the software they require: SAS, SPSS, Stata, JMP and R”, explains Buset.

They did the same for every single group of users. In this way, they provide each employee with the exact set of tools they have in their university computers, so that working from home or from the campus is really the same from them.

So as to make the full transition of all users to remote learning and working, they made the following adjustments in the VDI & vApp infrastructure with UDS Enterprise and OpenNebula: “We added one HAProxy server to make sure user balancing is made properly and servers not become saturated. We also increased the number of KVM hypervisors to 27 and RAM memory from 4 to 10 GB on our 3 UDS Tunnelers”, indicates the Head of User’s Support Department.

As all users are accessing now their virtual desktops and applications from home using their own devices it is really important to make sure all connections are properly secured. UDS Tunneler is a key component for this purpose, since it encrypts the connection from any device to the desktop services through a SSL tunnel.

The access to virtual desktops and applications is made via web browser. Each user authentifies in UDS Enterprise portal (which is customized with the corporate image of UCLouvain) with his Active Directory credentials. UDS retrieves his group membership and the user is automatically signed in his virtual machine through HTML5 and can start working.

Since the new measures due to the health situation were taken, the number of daily VMs they generate with UDS Enterprise has increased to more than 500. The infrastructure is available and ready to support the around 40,000 users in the University. “UDS Enterprise is working really well no matter the greater workload. We’re really pleased with the results. We’ve been trusting this VDI connection broker for years and it never let us down”, values Buset.

Among the points they most like of UDS Enterprise they list “its stability, the cache system that decreases the load on the hypervisors, the possibility to configure HTML5 connections, its highly responsive and efficient support service and its cost-effectiveness”.

Their commitment to this technology helped them react to the exceptional situation derived from Coronavirus expansion quickly and efficiently, providing a best-in-class remote learning and working experience for all students, teachers and university staff with tight security measures.

For more information on the experience of UCLouvain with the UDS Enterprise VDI broker, see the following articles:

Case Study UCLouvain: VDI with UDS Enterprise & OpenNebula

vApp for researchers at UCLouvain with UDS Enterprise

UCLouvain: VDI & vApp with UDS Enterprise + OpenNebula

Video: VDI for 37,000 students with UDS & OpenNebula



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