BigBlueButton Solution at Paris 8 University
The ongoing COVID-19 crisis accelerated the need and velocity of deployment of video conferencing solutions for schools and universities. In order to maintain close contact with their students and continue to support them no matter the situation, various well-known establishments needed safe and reliable communication solutions to deliver their classes.
The University of Paris 8 was no exception. From March to May 2020, the BigBlueButton (BBB) solution earned a certain degree of popularity during the first confinement in France. Scaleway largely contributed to this notoriety by providing the general public with a BBB platform called Scaleway Ensemble. Paris 8, being already a BBB user was also convinced by the relevance of the solution.
As soon as the lockdown ended, the University sought to strengthen its platform in order to respond in a more relevant way to the needs of its users. As a result they naturally turned to Scaleway to implement and continue using BigBlueButton for their students. Ivaylo Ganchev, CIO at University Paris 8, was particularly pleased with the responsiveness of the Sales team and the quick implementation of the infrastructure.
Paris 8, Arawa, and Scaleway’s Collaboration
Scaleway’s expertise in working with certified outsourcing experts brought them in contact with Arawa – a leading open-source integrator and expert in running large-scale deployments and customizing open-source solutions. Arawa’s experts designed a solution, fully integrated into the universities’ Moodle e-learning platform, and running on Scaleway Elements GP1-S instances. It provides a reliable and scalable video conferencing platform for more than 3.000 concurrent users in 100s of virtual conference rooms, available 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
To participate, students log in to the Moodle workspace provided by the university and join a pre-configured class in BBB. They are automatically authenticated. Teachers play the role of moderator for the class and can manage their class with all the necessary degrees of freedom. In practice, the detailed architecture is as follows:
Arawa decided to use BigBlueButton, as it is an open-sourced solution, which provides native integration in the universities’ existing Moodle platform. In addition, the document-sharing feature improves significantly the usability of the platform for end-users having slower internet connections. Another advantage of the platform is that it is hosted entirely sovereign in France, with Scaleway and Arawa as French and European partners.
In fact, deploying a solution that respects all aspects of the GDPR and other French and European data-protection laws was an inevitable requirement for the University Paris 8. Furthermore, since May 2020 in France, BigBlueButton has been integrated into the inter-ministerial Open Source software base and is recommended by the inter-ministerial department of the French government’s Digital and Information and Communication Systems Department for public administrations. When discussing with Ivaylo Ganchev, CIO at University Paris 8, he is very confident with Scaleway: “I have no criticisms and am looking forward to a long-lasting collaboration. We have a good dynamic with both Arawa and Scaleway. Today, I am highly motivated to find some alternatives to the GAFAM. In France, we also have relevant, robust, and reliable solutions and services.”
The University Paris 8 ordered the required instances using the Chorus Pro platform (e-payment platform of the French Government) and uses the Project-Feature to provide administrative access to these instances to Arawa. Arawa teams are in charge of the deployment and run of the BigBlueButton platform. Besides the operative tasks related to keeping the platform available at any time, they also take care of the Level-2 support for the platforms’ users.
Ivaylo Ganchev adds, “The Scaleway Console is very user-friendly. I quickly created an account, an organization, and granted access to Arawa.”
On Arawa’s side, Nicolas Vérité, Sales Manager, confirmed that the cooperation between the University of Paris 8 and Scaleway is seamless: “Thanks to Scaleway’s Project Feature, our customer was able to order the required instances using the procurement platform of the French Government. It also provided us access to their account, so our experts were able to set up the BigBlueButton solution on the universities instances and to link the deployment with the existing e-learning platform. Given the stability and performance of Scaleway’s General Performance Instances, the run of the platform is painless, and we did not have any issues with it.”
To conclude, Arawa plans to extend the cooperation with Scaleway to deploy and develop open-source applications and solutions for their customers in the Public Cloud Ecosystem Scaleway Elements, based on their experience and the reliability and performance of the resources provided. University of Paris 8 is also thinking about ordering more powerful instances for the second half of the year in order to experiment with classrooms of up to 300 students with one camera and one presentation. As Ivaylo Ganchev puts it, “everything is working well, the statistics are conclusive, the infrastructure is steady and the implementation is well-grounded”.