We continue the series of articles about open source collaboration solutions deployed in European universities. Today we will tell you about the University of Lorraine that adopted collaborative environment based on Nextcloud and ONLYOFFICE.
In this use case, we will focus on the choice of technologies, the infrastructure that ensures high availability, and their feedback after one year with ONLYOFFICE.
The University of Lorraine is a public institution created after the merge of four universities of the Lorraine region in north-eastern France. The UL is a hub of scientific advancement, economical growth, and knowledge transfer. Its 43 teaching departments and 60 research centers make the UL one of the largest universities in the country. The university has over 60,000 students, close to 6,900 staff members, among which 3,900 teachers and searchers, and many buildings and campuses distributed in the entire region.
The University of Lorraine is a major actor in the economic and social development of a whole region, building on intercultural and intergenerational links, coordinating a regional research policy, and giving access to higher education to as many inhabitants as possible. The UL offers curricula in all fields of knowledge: sciences, health, technology, engineering sciences, human and social sciences, law, economy, management, arts, literature, and language.
After the fusion of four universities into one in 2012, the campuses of the University of Lorraine are situated throughout the region in over 54 sites. This geographical context challenged the Information System Department to implement the collaborative environment, hosted and managed internally.
Camille Herry, System and Network Administrator at the University of Lorraine, explains:
One of the crucial factors of the project was to provide our users with a centralized and secure data storage facility that ensures the confidentiality of research data, and thus allows preserving our scientific and technical heritage.
The UL tried many solutions such as the Nuxeo content management platform, Confluence wiki software, and individual storage spaces based on ownCloud. Given this experience, the IS Department chose Nextcloud, a free and open source, deployed on-premises file sharing and collaboration platform.
This service allows storing the data on the university’s servers and seamlessly synchronizing files across multiple devices. Thus, users are able to access their documents from any web browser. What’s more, Nextcloud can be integrated with third-party web services.
In the next stage, the UL had to choose an office suite that was supposed to bring to the existing Nextcloud environment its online editing and co-editing features.
As highlighted by Camille Herry, their choice fell on the ONLYOFFICE suite for the following reasons:
- high compatibility with MS Office documents;
- easy installation and administration;
- ergonomic user interface and simple adoption of tools;
- low resource consumption;
- availability of tools anywhere and anytime;
- on-premises deployment that ensures compliance with the GDPR, a security policy for the information systems and the protection of the nation’s scientific and technical heritage;
- affordable tariffs.
Among the existing ONLYOFFICE solutions, the University of Lorraine opted for the Integration Edition with 200 simultaneous connections per server. ONLYOFFICE for integration allows editing and co-editing documents within the interface of collaboration platforms used by students and staff in their everyday routines such as Nextcloud, Nuxeo, and Confluence.
Thanks to the responsive and knowledgeable ONLYOFFICE support team, all adjustments were made at the start-up phase. To deploy its own service, the UL implemented the following architecture:
- front-end load balancer in a public VLAN;
- two machines hosting ONLYOFFICE Integration Edition;
- database server (Redis, NFS, RabbitMQ) in a private VLAN.
Today, the collaboration platform of the University of Lorraine is available to 6,900 staff members including teachers, researchers, administrative employees.
After one year, Camille Herry is glad to share with us the achieved results:
Our colleagues especially appreciate the fluidity, the ease of use, and a considerable time-saving thanks to online editing without having to install a desktop client. Previously, a user had to download the document, then edit it, and send it to the server. Now, many users are able to work simultaneously on the same document, regardless of where they are, and without any risk of overwriting the changes made by their co-authors.
Sébastien Morosi, Deputy Director of Information Technology at the University of Lorraine, outlines that this service was of great help during the quarantine:
The collaborative environment that we had implemented allowed us to maintain our research and academic activities, and keep our staff productive while working remotely.
The University of Lorraine shares this positive experience with other French educational institutions. The presentation “Collaborative cloud” of Camille Herry at JRES 2019 has inspired many universities to switch to open source software. Watch the full video in French >>
If you are interested to learn more about special offers for education, visit this page.
If you are looking for a full-stack online office suite, try ONLYOFFICE Enterprise Edition which offers self-hosted online document editors and a groupware platform.
If you are looking for advanced document processing within the cloud platform of your choice like Nextcloud, ownCloud, Pydio, XWiki, Jalios, exoPlatform, Seafile, PowerFolder, Alfresco, SharePoint, try ONLYOFFICE Integration Edition. The full list of connectors is available here.
If you still have doubts, get inspired by the successful experience of other research and educational institutions:
- How ONLYOFFICE helps organize research workflow in the Institute of Biology of Lille. Learn more
- ONLYOFFICE makes seamless online collaboration a reality in the University of French Polynesia. Learn more
- How Nextcloud and ONLYOFFICE improve user storage mobility and document collaboration in North-West University. Learn more
- How the University of Nantes deployed its online collaboration platform based on Nextcloud and ONLYOFFICE. Learn more
Share your ONLYOFFICE experience in the comments below or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org