by July 25, 2013 0 comments

Birla Institute of Technology and Science has four geographically distributed campuses and there was a need to connect all of them tightly for pedagogic and administrative reasons. It was also critical to enable the alumni to easily connect with all campuses. There was also a challenge faced during campus placements because the same company had to visit different campuses multiple times. Additionally, when an alumni or a dignitary visited one campus, the other campuses lost out on that opportunity. Guest lecturers from abroad could only be facilitated to one campus at a time via video conferencing. Since these lecturers did not have time to repeat the same lecture four times, many students were deprived of knowledge transfer in real-time. Faculty shortage in higher degree courses/electives was a challenge across campuses because the need for specialized electives varied in extent across different campuses making it very difficult to launch electives in all four campuses. BITS Pilani required an integrated solution that could facilitate next-generation learning experience for its students across geographies.

The Implementation

To overcome such issues, BITS along with BITSAA, its alumni community, launched the BITSConnect 2.0, a multi-million dollar project that leverages Cisco’s collaboration portfolio to enhance teacher-student-alumni interaction across its campuses. This solution comprised of Cisco’s Immersive Telepresence, High-definition Video Conferencing, and Webex technologies.

Company Scenario

Before deployment: Government of Maharashtra was facing trouble in allocating resources, resulting in users having to wait for long procurement cycles. There was also underutilization of their servers, and scalability issues to meet the rising demand for resources. Moreover, there were no measures in place for backup or 24/7 availability of the resources in the State Data Center(SDC)

What was deployed: A cloud infrastructure was deployed by using the VMWare & Microsoft Cloud technologies. Using 302 VMs running on 24 physical servers with a VMWare cloud, and 25 VMs running on 6 physical servers with a Microsoft cloud, the data center was able to distribute computing resources easily and automatically. With the cloud solution, infrastructure,platform and software were given as services.

After deployment: Turnaround time to provision a server with OS and DB has gone down from hours to minutes. Applications on cloud are updated on the fly, and software is always up to date when users access from the cloud. Savings of 50 crores achieved, by maximizing utilization of existing infrastructure.



The Impact

The resulting impact of the project has led to time and money savings by making use of telepresence for administration and/or faculty to collaborate effectively. 14 specialized electives are being offered to students across all campuses due to this deployment. On an average, 8 classes every day, comprising of at least 20-60 students in each class is conducted over telepresence. About 3-5 meetings are conducted per day over telepresence including guest lectures, workshops, and other academic pursuits from experts across the globe.

In just six months, the institute has conducted 603 hrs of meetings over tele-presence and 852 hrs in classrooms. It has reduced travel time considerably. 700 full time faculty, 11000 on-campus students and 19,000 off-campus students are using the infrastructure. Some other benefits of this solution include cross-campus research interactions amongst faculty (at times involved external experts as well), multi-­site Administrative Meetings involving university and campus administrators, faculty-­recruitment and CXO-­recruitment interviews involving all enabled campuses. The insitute is able to conduct PhD Viva-­Voice sessions involving all enabled campuses. select placement interviews and Pre-­placement talks are also happening.

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