The Computer Center at Regensburg University supports a diverse user base. There is the academic side, consisting of students and teaching staff; the medical side with the university’s medical faculty affiliated to local teaching hospitals; and the research side, as the university is very well set up for a dialog between science and industry through several ground-breaking research initiatives. Overall, some 55,000 users use the university network.
To support this highly collaborative academic environment, file sharing was widely used, as Edmund Weber, Head of Collaboration and Mobile Solutions at Regensburg University, explains: “To support their work or study, our users would regularly use different file sharing options, such as Dropbox, or OneDrive. While we recognize the value of file sharing, none of these options complied with our security policies and it became clear that we needed to put a framework in place to help our users share files securely and effectively. Lots of our users want mobile file access, from their smartphones and tablets with the same experience as they would on their laptop or desktop. We couldn’t easily provide file access from all these devices and looked for a solution to which we could apply our security policy and standards. This is especially important as the university has close links to healthcare providers which makes us required by law to meet strict compliance rules around data sharing, so storing information in a public cloud is not an option for us.”
When market research showed that Micro Focus Filr could provide seamless file access from any location or device a decision was soon made. Filr has been designed with enterprise-wide use in mind, resulting in reduced administration, improved security, and more productive users. Filr now serves as the connection between the university file servers and any endpoint device.
Over 75 million files are held within 50 Net Folder servers and file access is easy, both on and off the network. When on the network, users can download a file which they can then access and edit off-line. As soon as the device connects back onto the network, the file will be synced with its source. Weber comments: “Filr is very easy to use, both from an IT administrative and a user perspective. We need to make sure users understand the difference between a sync & share solution such as Filr and a shared drive solution. Our user base is of course very fluid, so within our university, use of Filr is included in the induction course so a new user coming into the university is clear on the Filr use straight away. As the product has matured and our Filr deployment has grown to one of the largest globally, user acceptance has really increased. People are now actively asking for it and suggesting new use cases for Filr.”
The benefits of using Filr became extra clear when Regensburg University announced a partnership with a local technical university, the University of Amberg-Weiden. Much smaller than Regensburg University, Amberg-Weiden was hoping to leverage use of Filr as well. Regensburg University’s Filr system needed full access to Amberg-Weiden’s eDirectory and file server resources. This was done through creating a VPN tunnel so that secure file sharing between the universities was enabled.
The university’s research staff regularly collaborates with other research bodies around the world. Shibboleth is used as a federated identity solution and, within the Shibboleth federation framework, Filr can be used to securely file share which enables effective research collaboration.
Filr is easy to manage as it works with the University’s existing security policies and delivers secure file access over encrypted connections. On the few occasions when Weber has needed support from Micro Focus, he has been pleased with the response: “Filr really just runs itself but if I need help Micro Focus is right there with great support.”
He concludes: “We recently introduced a new Filr version which has given us some performance enhancements, support for new clients, and improved indexing. We can see that the product is important to Micro Focus and in constant development which is great news for our continued use of it.”