The Singapore Polytechnic's School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (EEE) had an eight-year old data centre that was running on an Internet service provider network that the management and staff realised had limited bandwidth and processing power.
The data centre was initially built around the school's Computer and Network Technology course which focused on network and security. This system was unable to support the increasingly sophisticated needs of the school, its students and staff.
Many of the module experiments, such as Operating Systems and Server Management, could only be supported in the specific laboratories. This resulted in a resource crunch, as there were a limited number of laboratories that are able to support such these modules.
The teaching staff felt that the data centre should be modernised so that the students can acquire the skills and knowledge in virtualisation and cloud computing environments.
EEE then conceptualised the Singapore Polytechnic Electrical and Electronic Engineering Cloud Computing Centre (SPE3C3). SPE3C3 was intended to provide both students and faculty with on-demand, scalable, virtual computing, thus enabling more sophisticated projects and research work.
One of the objectives set up by the management and teaching staff was that the new centre can help save costs by streamlining the computing resources.
Anywhere and anytime
Another was to "allow our students to access their compute resources (lab experiments, FYPs) from anywhere & at anytime & using any mobile devices such as tablets and mobile phones," said Steven Chew, EEE senior lecturer, Singapore Polytechnic.
The implementation started in March 2011 and by October 2011, the first phase of SPE3C3 was completed, with students able to access resources within the building.
The final phase was completed in June 2012 with EEE students able to access SPE3C3 remotely from anywhere so long as they have Internet access.
One of the vendors selected by Singapore Polytechnic to support SPE3C3 was Citrix, who supplied its NetScaler load balancing system.
With the convenience of connecting from any browser, students and faculty can now access the cloud for teaching resources, laboratory experiments, complex projects, lecture notes and lesson materials, even in the early hours of the morning.
The solution ensured that cloud-based application and infrastructure services were seamlessly integrated for 'anytime, anywhere, any device' usage. EEE students and faculty no longer have to work within the constraints of the laboratory and are able to make use of the desired applications wherever they are. Faculty members can also assign students to work on specific applications without physical laboratory limitations.
The physical constraints of a classroom are further diminished with the consistent learning environment provided through Citrix virtualisation, where students and faculty can save and share their work online, making both learning and teaching much more accessible.
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