After the beginning of russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the information systems and elements of its critical digital infrastructure that are most important for the viability of the KPI were moved to the cloud.

For IT professionals, the importance of this step is a matter of course. For non-specialists, it is far from obvious.

Moreover, even people who are fluent in modern digital technologies but have not been involved in the process of organizing and ensuring the migration of critical university IT infrastructure services to the cloud environment may not be able to clearly understand the specifics and scope of this work.

However, it is first worth explaining why this is done.

In short, it is so that the university can continue to work in the virtual space. And not only to post information about itself and its news on official websites and social media, but also, above all, to provide remote learning, carry out management activities, keep personnel records, store huge amounts of data and perform many, many other tasks. And all of this even if university buildings or server rooms are destroyed or left without electricity. In other words, transferring the main university resources to the cloud is actually a matter of preserving its viability, because without information technology, a modern institution, especially a higher education institution, simply cannot operate. Moreover, it cannot build its future.

Cloud technologies allow all this. But how?

The fact is that they use distributed digital data processing technologies and are based on the use of virtual servers located in the data centers of cloud service providers. Cloud services allow you to set up data backup in data centers that are thousands of kilometers away from each other. Also, the cloud allows you to automatically scale resources and use already prepared and configured digital infrastructure components: databases, file storage, etc.

There are different levels of cloud services and quite a few companies that provide them. But there are three global leaders in this market: Amazon (Amazon Web Services), Azure, and Google Cloud. It was Amazon that helped Ukrainian ministries and businesses transfer more than 10 petabytes of data to the cloud shortly after the war in Ukraine began. The critical information systems of Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute were also transferred to this platform.

Of course, this migration was not automatic. It required the efforts of people.
"For the first time, the idea of moving university resources to the cloud arose back in 2011. We came back to this topic from time to time, but things did not move forward," says Andriy Hubskyi, one of the co-founders of the Ukrainian .NET Developer Community, a KPI graduate and employee of the Design Bureau of Information Systems. "Only after the outbreak of war and the shelling of Kyiv's energy infrastructure, when various university services began to fail due to regular power outages and, at the same time, it became known that Amazon, together with the Ministry of Digital Transformation, had organized the transfer of the infrastructure of government agencies to the company's cloud, did we at the Design Bureau of Information Systems decide to take this step.

However, the official path turned out to be extremely long, and the situation required quick decisions. That's why Andriy Hubskyi, who initiated the project, asked his colleagues and partners to assist in communicating with the Ministry of Digital Transformation. Thanks to Juscutum's attorney and managing partner Artem Afian, Andriy managed to get in touch with Anton Melnyk, an advisor to the Minister of Digital Transformation, who, in turn, helped him contact Amazon representatives in Ukraine. Further cooperation was already underway with the Polish office of the company, whose employees took measures to organize the transfer or, as IT specialists say, migration of KPI resources to its cloud environment. KPI also received more than half a million hryvnias as a grant from Amazon to support this process.

But before starting the technical part of the project, its executors, together with the director of the Design Bureau of IS Oleksiy Finogenov, selected the most critical services from the entire university variety that needed to be transferred first. So, according to Andrii Hubskyi, it was decided to first migrate everything related to the Electronic Campus; part of the integration services with the “Dekanat” information system; systems for supporting the work of the HR department; services related to the organization of the educational process, and some others.

"It took us about a month to discuss the technical details. Then our partners discussed how they could help us. And after that, Amazon also provided KPI with a grant. However, it was not "real money": a special account was created for KPI, to which virtual credits were credited. The grant was allocated for six months - for the duration of the project. And this is where the transfer process began," Andriy Hubskyi continues his story.

"But then the problem of 'technical debt' arose, that is, the incompatibility of outdated software with the components of the cloud platform (in fact, the concept of 'technical debt' is broader, but in the case of the university, it arises precisely because of difficulties with timely software updates). Therefore, the IS team also had to look for opportunities to eliminate it or somehow work around it. This was one of the main technical problems in the process of transferring Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute resources to AWS. But in the end, a special procedure was quickly developed that allowed us not to delve into the development of new products, as any such work takes time.

And within a month, KPI's critical services were not only prepared to work in the cloud, but also successfully moved to the cloud! "Compared to other projects I've been involved in, a month for a large system is a very good result," explains Andriy Hubskyi, "especially since everyone was working under stress. Moreover, it was often a problem to synchronize the work, because at that time there were regular rolling blackouts, and the team worked remotely and not always its members could share their work, as the availability of electricity in their places of work did not coincide in time."

By the way, about the team that was engaged in the transfer of KPI resources. It consisted of: Andriy Gubsky, Director of the Design Bureau of IS Oleksiy Finogenov, and specialists of the Design Bureau Pavlo Arakelyan, Yana Romashkevych, Yuriy Godovanyi, and Yaroslav Kornaha.

In the course of the systems migration, components were updated wherever possible, services were containerized, source codes were consolidated in the university repository, and IaC (Infrastructure as Code) practices were implemented. These measures allowed us to streamline the technical infrastructure and bring order to disparate projects. All of this will ultimately make it possible to significantly simplify and speed up the processes of subsequent service migrations if necessary.

However, the process of transferring KPI services to the cloud has not yet been finalized, and the work continues. Moreover, the issue of creating a specific procedure for such a transfer of digital resources of the departments, taking into account its financial component, is being worked out. But the main thing is that the components of the most important infrastructure of the university have already been protected, and the university itself continues to work and develop effectively.

 Dmytro Stefanovych

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