Strategy: “Cloud Unless”

ROC Midden Nederland, a secondary vocational education institution offering adult continuing education, enterprise training and training for some 22,000 students, has been using cloud services since 2010 when it migrated its student registration system. Following this, ROC Midden Nederland gradually migrated more applications to the cloud. Today, every new IT project is subject to the “cloud unless” principle: all IT projects are automatically evaluated to see if it can be executed in the cloud.

Challenge: Disaster Recovery

For all SaaS applications, ROC Midden Nederland used Microsoft’s ADFS service allowing identity data to be securely shared between the institution and trusted partners. Diverse systems are linked to this environment, such as student registration and employee administration systems.

For years, the ADFS has run exclusively on ROC Midden Nederland’s own data centre in Utrecht. While operationally fine, it became clear that this configuration created a dangerous single point of failure. In the event of a disaster, such as fire or flood, the entire Microsoft ADFS system was vulnerable to failure and would be unavailable.

The Cloud Solution

ROC Midden Nederland created a contingency location via Microsoft Azure using Azure Traffic Manager, purchased from SURFcumulus Single Cloud via the GÉANT IaaS Framework. This system monitors both the Utrecht site and the Azure environment. If there is no response from the relevant data centre within 30 seconds, the system automatically guides users to the Azure environment. In terms of scale, the cloud environment is not as robust as its own data centre, but it is certainly sustainable until problems are resolved.

Benefits

SURFcumulus Single Cloud brings other advantages. The disaster recovery tool is available within the Microsoft Azure environment, so that the ROC Midden Nederland does not have to expend valuable time and resources on managing a data centre, but rather focus on meeting the needs of users and developing new IT services.

By mitigating risks with a secure fall-back solution, higher availability and a more responsive IT department, the Microsoft Azure solution is a win-win situation for ROC Midden Nederland users.

Next Steps

Deployment of more mission-critical systems on a Microsoft Azure fall-back environment.