GDPR compliant collaboration coming to 750K students and teachers in Sweden

April 26, 2022

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Jos Poortvliet

European researchers are up to date with modern cloud storage solutions, however struggle to find one that is safe, secure, and that meets compliance standards.

Sunet, a Swedish company, found a solution to providing a GDPR compliant service through their provider Safespring.

Today, we can introduce to you Sunet Drive: A managed storage solution installed in an institutions local IT environment built on trusted open-source software and open standards.

 

The Swedish solution

Sunet, part of the NREN (Swedish National Research & Education organization), was founded in the 1980’s as a research project for Swedish computer scientists. They now connect 750,000 users and 110 organizations via 8,400 km of fiber.

Safespring is the provider of Sunet’s cloud offering to the Swedish academic sector and has since built large scale cloud solutions for Sunet’s customers.

With Sunet Drive by Safespring, you don’t need to worry about the security of public cloud services, or by relying on their institutions to implement, run, and maintain a private cloud. Now you can have a reliable storage system without compromising GDPR issues.

Nextcloud in Sunet Drive

Nextcloud is an integral part of the Sunet Drive solution.

When users want to share documents, files, and other project components to internal colleagues as well as external users, it is easily done. You have the control over sharing permissions to enable who gets access, when and where.

From a technical perspective, there are several self-containing nodes which are installations of Nextcloud. Within each Nextcloud node are S3 bucket’s which are basically separate external drives that have the ability to store an entire project. From an operations perspective, Nextcloud servers can easily be scaled out by adding more instances that may be needed.

   

Also, with Nextcloud there is the possibility for a single sign-on capability for users. This is due to the Global Site Selector functionality which is another Nextcloud node.

With the help of other open source software Ceph and OpenStack, the virtual machines behind the use of Nextcloud is able to run smoothly.

How it works (an end user perspective)

It is relatively simple to use this enterprise file sync and share (EFSS) solution.

First, a user logs in through their institutional account using a single sign-on made possible by the Global Site Selector. Then, the user is re-directed to their federated node co-managed between Sunet/Safespring and/or their institution. This basically means that a user can have a dedicated storage area for a specific project (the S3 bucket) which then shows up as a normal folder in Nextcloud and is thus subject to Nextcloud standard applications and processes.

From there, collaboration with researchers at other institutions is easily possible by inviting them into Sunet Drive. This is possible due to the look-up server residing in other Nextcloud nodes which is able to seamlessly find them. Once you’ve established your connection, you can easily make file transfers between institutions due to the NREN network.

   

Lastly, once a project is completed, the properties of the S3 bucket can not only be changed, but the ownership of the data can be transferred too. That being said, if a user moves to another institution at any time, they can access their new Nextcloud node without any hassle or complexities.

We hope this provides a concrete perspective for your understanding and have equally shown the wonderful benefits of this collaboration!

Perfect for an education environment

In the education industry, collaboration is key to innovation and progress. We gain new ideas and perspectives from others and need to work with them to make progress.

The Sunet Drive SafeSpring solution with Nextcloud is made to fit educator and researcher needs at universities and delivers all the requirements of a storage solution. From collaboration and ease of use, to low cost and compliancy standards, universities all over Europe are covered.

We are proud to be the trusted open source software for Sunet Drive that allows the data to follow the researcher, and not the other way around.

To learn more about the implementation of Nextcloud in Sunet Drive, read the full case study here.

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