In the last few weeks we have received requests from various parties for additional services in the Academic Cloud. In our effort to support other universities in Lower-Saxony in times of COVID-19, we have therefore extended the offerings for the Academic Cloud by three new services: Meet, Chat and Repository.
The services will be available to all universities in Lower-Saxony from 19.05.2020, as usual, via the portal https://academiccloud.de. The Academic Cloud is a joint infrastructure of the LANIT/RZ of the university computer centers in Lower-Saxony.
After a successful test phase in March, GWDG has been offering the BigBlueButton video conferencing solution as a production service and with an increased capacity on a high-performance infrastructure as https://meet.gwdg.de since 16.04.2020. Until now, this service was offered only for the University of Göttingen and the Max Planck Society. Big Blue Button is recommended for video conferences with up to 30 participants with audio and video as well as lectures with up to 200 participants, but only a few video streams.
Technically, the platform is currently operated on a cluster of eight hardware servers with a total of 512 AMD EPYC processor cores and 2 TB RAM, and can be further expanded if necessary. In front of this cluster, a highly available LoadBalancer network based on the Scalelite software runs in virtual machines that access database servers that are also virtualized. The system was designed for about 10,000 simultaneous participants in common scientific scenarios. In addition, telephone dial-in is possible for up to 250 simultaneous participants. Our production experience, indicates a scalability for up to 17,000 simultaneous participants.
Rocket.chat is a web-based, persistent messaging service with a focus on group communication. It allows all AcademicCloud users to communicate via a simple, intuitive platform. Rocket.chat supports the sending of files, pictures and videos as well as the integration of different services like GitLab etc. via bot and API. The service can be used via the browser, i.e. without being installed on your own device. Furthermore, there are clients and apps for Windows, macOS and Linux for mobile devices.
Dataverse Repository for Research Data
In Göttingen, the GWDG already operates GRO.data as a research data repository, since it is based on Dataverse. Therefore we can now make Dataverse available in the Academic Cloud for a generic repository. It offers a customizable selection of discipline-specific metadata sets to describe the data to be stored to support retrieval, as well as individually configurable access rights management. Files can be uploaded and tagged with metadata via the web portal or API. A publication of data with automatic DOI assignment is only carried out upon explicit action of the data owner. The technical connection to specific electronic laboratory notebooks (ELN), the possibility of easy linking of published data in the ORCID profile of the researcher as well as the worldwide active developer community of the software Dataverse, which is the basis of GRO.data, are further strengths of the service.