When the Consorci de Serveis Universitaris de Catalunya (CSUC) looked toward the clouds to improve effectiveness and efficiency by leveraging synergies and economies of scale to bring state of the art services to its members, they found the right solution at the right price from the GÉANT Cloud Offering.  CSUC is a consortium of 10 universities and the Catalan Government, providing academic services, scientific, library, and knowledge transfer to more than 80 research institutions and centres in the Catalan region of Spain.

In mid-March, CSUC officially launched its UNIDisc service, a cloud storage service based on OwnCloud, acquired via the GÉANT offering for the Catalan education and research community.

Under the hood

UNIDisc offers users an easy way to store, synchronize and share files in a secure and reliable community cloud. Initially acquiring 5,000 licenses, UNIDisc is currently available at three different institutions. By default, each user of this pay per use service gets 100 GB data storage capacity, and can access their files at all times, from any location and device thanks to offline synchronization. Users can grant guest users access to their personal files. UNIDisc is easily accessible by logging on via the CSUC’s UNIFICAT, the identity federation for the Catalan university and research community.

Why OwnCloud?

In anticipation of launching a cloud storage service, CSUC formed a working group of representatives from all 10 universities. Several of the working group members were familiar with OwnCloud, the platform they were using at their home institutions. With OwnCloud server, members enjoyed many of the solution’s powerful features, like online editing, anti-ransomware protection, the ability to add additional private disk, federated access, easy and secure file sharing within the education and research community thanks to the support of GÉANT Open Cloud Mesh, its commitment to open source, the ability to completely brand the CSUC offering, multi-platform and mobile support and transversal work.

According to Jordi Guijarro Olivares, CSUC’s Operations & Security Manager, the choice was ideal. “We had a strong installed base, and end users who were already familiar with the platform. The chance to link other storage media to the OwnCloud environment, such as from institutional data centres, and configure the storage discs was a deal-breaker for our users. OwnCloud met, or exceeded, all the benchmarks the working group had, and we could see that it could scale and grow as demand increases. The support provided by the Spanish partner was an important factor as well.”

The GÉANT Offering Advantage

Key to making the OwnCloud solution into a cost-effective, viable service for CSUC and its members was the GÉANT Cloud Offering. “There was a huge difference in the cost of the licenses, compared to a standard commercial contract,” says Jordi. “The offering us to save ten times the final cost of licenses. Without it, I am not sure if we would be in the position to build and offer a service like UNIDisc.”

What’s next?

With the successful completion of pre-production testing in February, the service was launched in mid-March. Today it can support 3,000 users. Initially, university ICT departments are testing the service and providing important feedback. CSUC is now preparing official launch events and a press package to market the service to end users. Stay tuned for more news from this Catalan Consortium, as the research and education community prepares to take file sync and storage to the next level – reaching to the clouds for more functionality, more power and more flexibility as the community’s data needs continue to grow and expand.