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Shaanxi University of Science and Technology funded in 1958 is the only multidisciplinary university characterized by light industry in the western area of China. It is a high-level university listed in the national "Basic Capacity Construction Project for Central and Western Colleges and Universities" and a key university jointly built by Shaanxi Provincial People's Government and Sinolight Corporation during the "12th Five-Year Plan" period. At present, the university has more than 1,200 full-time teachers including nearly 600 with senior professional and technical titles and more than 21,000 full-time students including nearly 3,000 doctoral and postgraduate students. The library has a collection of nearly 2 million books.

Shaanxi University of Science and Technology currently boasts three campuses: Xi'an Weiyang Campus, Taihua Road Campus and Xianyang Campus, with 13 faculties (departments) including Light Industry Science and Engineering Faculty, Material Science and Engineering Faculty, and Environmental Science and Engineering Faculty. In January 2017, the discipline of Materials Science advanced to the top 1% of ESI global ranking and became the first-class disciplines in the world.

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Shaanxi University of Science and Technology has created a stable digital campus application on the AWS platform.

Department of Applied Technology under Information and Network Management Center of Shaanxi University of Science and Technology

Challenges

Building a first-class university cannot be realized without the support of informatization. In recent years, Shaanxi University of Science and Technology has been highlighting the IT infrastructure construction and the promotion of innovative information applications. Previously, the university's self-built data center was built with virtualization technology, running 100-odd virtual servers to support different application modules and services of university administrative affairs informatization. IT O&M team of the Application Technology Department of Shaanxi University of Science and Technology was awakened by an IT accident in December 2017, noticing the bottleneck in the traditional information construction modes. "As exams and holidays are approaching, December is the peak period for university information system, when we were confronted with repeated restart of multiple servers, resulting in the failure of the core database. After careful troubleshooting, we found that there was a physical failure in the storage device. However, as the warranty period of the equipment has expired, if the original factory is requested to provide maintenance services, it will not only take a long time, but also require the financial department of the university to allocate a large sum of money to renew the warranty. For an institution such as a university, the budget, approval and application of funds shall go through strict procedures, which raises the difficulty level of storage failure problem. " said Chen Feng, Department of Applied Technology under Information and Network Management Center of Shaanxi University of Science and Technology. For Shaanxi University of Science and Technology, traditional data centers face expensive cost, high O&M pressure, and elasticity and reliability insufficiency. To maintain the stable operation of the system, a large amount of funds needs to be invested, and unlike enterprises, it will be very difficult for universities with strict budget system to allocate additional funds for emergencies. With the university's mobile service platform and the launch of the new all-purpose card and other applications that are still under planning, the deployment of new services requires more efforts from the IT team to deploy and optimize from the aspects of hardware, software and systems. As a result, the university’s IT teams need to seek new approaches to configure IT resources.

Why AWS?

To choose a cloud service provider, Shaanxi University of Science and Technology made a careful and detailed comparison of several brands in the market and finally chose Amazon Web Services (AWS). The reason for making such a choice is on the strength of AWS in the following aspects:

  • Years of accumulated technology and operational experience
  • Professional and reliable services
  • Adequate data security
  • Unique project support for educational institutions
  • Years of accumulated technology and operational experience
  • AWS is a service provider that entered the cloud computing market earlier with more than 12 years of operating experience in cloud computing, a rich customer base and technology accumulation, capable to provide continuous technological innovation. Now, with AWS entering China, Shaanxi University of Science and Technology can independently choose AWS China (Beijing) Region operated by SINNET and AWS China (Ningxia) Region operated by NWCD to deploy IT applications to achieve off-site data disaster preparedness and redundancy. In particular, the AWS China (Ningxia) Region operated by NWCD, can be used to serve campuses in the Western Area with lower service latency. In addition, AWS also offers a wide range of service options to support the existing relational database platform at Shaanxi University of Science and Technology, allowing its IT team to use the hosted Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for Oracle on the cloud and realize rapid deployment of Oracle Database.

  • Professional and reliable services
  • AWS can provide high-level services that conform to the information operation of university administrative affairs of Shaanxi University of Science and Technology, allowing the university to obtain sufficient technical support for migration from on-premises data center to the cloud. At the same time, these professional services have also simplified the process of switching to the cloud for Shaanxi University of Science and Technology. "The AWS technical team suggested that we use AWS Storage Gateway service for seamless data migration. With the compression and bandwidth management capabilities featured by the service, we can quickly migrate data from on-premises websites to AWS." said Chen Feng, Department of Applied Technology under Center of Information and Network Management of Shaanxi University of Science and Technology. "In addition, we also used AWS Database Migration Service (AWS DMS) to set up a hot backup database of campus all-purpose card platform on the AWS Cloud, and the whole process is not only very fast and efficient, but also the source database could continue to operate normally during the migration process, avoiding downtime of all-purpose card core application that relies on the database to the greatest extent. "

  • Adequate data security
  • Many application modules in the information platform of university administrative affairs system will inevitably store and record data about personal identity information of teachers and students. When storing and using such data, Shaanxi University of Science and Technology has adopted very strict supervision and traceability measures to prevent the leakage or illegal access of sensitive information. Among cloud service providers, AWS has proved its focus on the security of user data and provided strong protective measures in the AWS infrastructure to protect customer privacy. Since all data are stored in AWS area with dozens of compliance certifications and high security, Shaanxi University of Science and Technology can adopt a variety of security services and policies, including data security, communication security, network security, etc. These meet well the requirements of Shaanxi University of Science and Technology for data security and privacy protection.

  • Unique project support for educational institutions
  • AWS can not only provide reliable cloud services, but also share its own experience and technology with customers of educational institutions through the AWS Academy programs. "Cloud computing is a rapidly developing field, and the knowledge in textbooks will lag behind. The AWS Academy provides educational institutions with the latest innovation technology from AWS to provide practical learning experience lacking in the courses and thus help students prepare for work in the cloud field. "If you are engaged in education sector, you can obtain certification through free AWS professional studies," said Chen Feng, Department of Applied Technology under Center of Information and Network Management of Shaanxi University of Science and Technology. During this process, both educators and students can gain cloud computing skills and improve their competitiveness through practical experience. "

Achievement

By using AWS to replace the traditional obsolete on-premises data center and virtualization platform, Shaanxi University of Science and Technology has gained benefits in multiple aspects.

First, the traditional procurement method of IT resources has changed to help the university reduce costs. After AWS is adopted, Shaanxi University of Science and Technology can use IT resources on demand and on a pay-per-use model, instead of purchasing hardware and software in advance and planning for capacity as in traditional on-premises virtualized environments. "Now, when the university is about to launching applications, we can complete the deployment on AWS in just a few hours and omit the complicated financial approval process, which has shifted the IT cost of the university from the traditional expensive fixed asset investment to the current service leasing mode, greatly relieving the pressure on the financial department of the university, and we are no more concerned about depreciation or subsequent maintenance of equipment, " Teacher Chen Feng said. "For the IT team, the high SLA service provided by AWS is beyond the reach of our on-premises self-built data center, but now we can obtain the high SLA provided by AWS with very low cost for cloud services, which is very cost-effective for the university. "

Second,the workload of IT O&M teams has significantly been reduced, allowing the university IT teams to devote more energy to long-term strategic planning and university informatization. "AWS provides not only all kinds of hosted services, but also tools for automated O&M and deployment. With the help of Amazon CloudWatch, we can easily and intuitively monitor applications, understand and respond to system-wide performance changes, optimize resource utilization, and view operations in a unified view. Previously, we needed 4 persons to manage our on-premises virtualized environment; after with AWS cloud service, we only need 1 person to monitor the service to ensure the stable operation of the environment, " Teacher Chen Feng said. "Now, the IT team of the university can focus more on the strategic trend of the university's future information construction and introduce more innovative technologies including mobile applications and IoT on the campus information platform to better serve teachers and students. "

Fig. 1 is a schematic diagram for the AWS-based system architecture of Shaanxi University of Science and Technology, using the AWS services including: Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Storage Gateway, AWS DMS, Amazon RDS for Oracle, CloudWatch, etc.

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Fig. 1 Schematic Diagram for AWS-based System Architecture of Shaanxi University of Science and Technology

More than that, AWS also enables Shaanxi University of Science and Technology to use innovative cloud technologies to drive teaching and research as well as curriculum reform so as to enhance the core competencies of graduates. Relying on the successful application of AWS services, Shaanxi University of Science and Technology decided to join the AWS Academy program. The Department of Applied Technology of the university has planned to cooperate with all its faculties to introduce the latest cloud computing knowledge into the university's computer courses that to be combined with the development of hands-on practical ability to enable students to acquire complete cloud computing skills and certification. "The contents in the AWS Academy course can be integrated with the university's existing curriculum system, so that students can better understand cloud computing knowledge in line with the trend of the times and make sufficient preparations for future employment or entrepreneurship, " said Chen Feng, Department of Applied Technology under Center of Information and Network Management of Shaanxi University of Science and Technology. "The university itself has a production environment for university administrative affairs services deployed on AWS. Combined with what AWS Academy provides, we can reduce the gap between industries and universities in teaching practice, and students can understand the value of cloud computing more intuitively, so that our students can be more confident in using cloud technology in the future workplace to open up wider employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for them. "

Future overview

In the future, Shaanxi University of Science and Technology plans to migrate most of its applications like teaching and scientific research programs to AWS, and actively adopt AWS Lambda to realize serverless application deployment. At that time, the university only needs to upload the code of the new app to realize the operation in the cloud. In addition, with the deepening application of AWS Cloud services in Shaanxi University of Science and Technology, the parties will continue to work together in cloud computing technology support for IT innovation, teaching and scientific research and other fields of the university, and choose the right time to jointly create a "Cloud Innovation Academy", so as to help the university students' innovation and entrepreneurship with AWS’s advanced cloud computing experience and technology, and provide impetus for the development of higher education in the western area.

More Information

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