How URAN, GÉANT and OCRE help Ukrainian universities transfer their IT infrastructure abroad
Published: 03 February 2023
Author: Tetiana Preobrazhenska, URAN
NREN of Ukraine URAN Association in partnership with the pan-European GÉANT Association and the OCRE project helps Ukrainian universities to get access to cloud services outside the country. URAN and GÉANT together with representatives of international cloud service providers talked about this at the round table “Digital transformation of scientific activity in universities in the context of European integration”.
A special round table session was devoted to cloud services. Yevhenii Preobrazhenskyi, executive director of the URAN Association, introduced the participants to the OCRE (Open Clouds for Research Environments) project, which is funded by the European Union and acts as an intermediary between commercial providers of cloud services and their users – research and education (R&E) institutions; helps them conclude framework agreements and receive significant discounts. Yevhenii talked about the crucial role of NREN (National Research and Education Network) in the OCRE infrastructure.
“It is through URAN that R&E institutions of Ukraine can apply to OCRE, we act as an intermediary, help find providers offering the necessary cloud services at a large discount, and even EU grants for certain projects”
David Heyns, OCRE Project Director, represented GÉANT and OCRE. He spoke about the GÉANT Association and the components of the pan-European R&E network (of which the URAN network is a part), about GÉANT services, including cloud services. David drew the participants’ attention to the long-term prospects of the cloud services use by Ukrainian universities. Leading commercial providers (for example, Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services) which provide Ukrainian universities with free access to their platforms from April 2022, are ready to continue this charitable support for a few more months, after which the institutions will face the issue of payment.
“It is not sustainable for an institute to transition a workload (like Learning Management System) to a cloud platform for only 6 months. There would need to be funding to secure the hosting of a workload for at least 30 months”, David noted.
In his speech, Dawid Dybuk, Account Manager CEE Education at Amazon Web Services (AWS), raised the same question. He described how cloud services provider AWS in partnership with EPAM, URAN, and GÉANT has been supporting Ukrainian educators since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion and reported on AWS’ decision to extend this support until September 2023. Until then, universities need to find a source of further funding for the services (state, sponsors, etc.).
Denis Hrynyov and Mykhailo Khyzhniak from the EPAM IT company told how they helped Ukrainian universities transfer distance learning servers to the AWS platform, and explained the advantages of cloud services compared to other options for transferring IT infrastructure abroad.
In the face of missile attacks, shelling, and frequent power outages, any IT infrastructure is at risk of destruction or breakdown, so using cloud services is a reliable option to secure information and establish remote work. Ukrainian R&E institutions can get access to leading cloud platforms by contacting the URAN Association and stating their needs. URAN specialists together with OCRE representatives will select a cloud service provider (Microsoft Azure, AWS, etc.) and help conclude a framework agreement with it on the most beneficial terms.
The event held online on January 31, 2023, with the support of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, was organized by the Scientist Support Office. About 800 educators gathered to exchange their experience in the use of digital services, e-infrastructures, and Open Science tools at universities, and to discuss the digitalisation of scientific activity.
The recording of the round table and all materials will be published on the organiser’s website.