Case Metropolia: Secure Google Cloud environment as the enabler of innovative RDI collaboration


Cooperation in brief

Starting point

Metropolia initiated an extensive security survey, leading to the decision to construct a robust cloud infrastructure, elevating the capabilities for RDI project initiatives.
Key to success

Gapps built a cloud environment that aligns with the highest security standards, ensuring an optimal cloud management model with comprehensive documentation for Metropolia. The project was successfully delivered with Gapp’s well-designed Secure Google Cloud Foundation project. 

A secure Google Cloud infrastructure and governance model that enables an innovative way of operating in the public cloud. This includes the establishment of a secure sandbox platform for research, Development, and innovation (RDI) projects in collaboration with partner companies and international operators.

A well-built cloud infrastructure inspires modern research and development activities

Metropolia's responsibilities as a University of Applied Sciences include the development of Finnish business expertise, which nowadays strongly involves digitalization and artificial intelligence. Development is carried out extensively with cities, public organizations, and companies as projects or outsourced services through companies.

Metropolia's Head Lecturer, Erkki Räsänen responsibilities include infrastructure development and fostering collaboration. Following a thorough cybersecurity assessment, Metropolia's decision to transition to Google Cloud was unquestionable, driven by its commitment to security and agility. Google Cloud infrastructure project was conducted in collaboration with Computas via the OCRE & Geant framework.

Before Gapps established the foundation of Google Cloud, Metropolia had utilized cloud services tailored for higher education. However, in addition to these, there was a need for scalable and user-friendly cloud solutions. "Tight conditions are suitable for research use, but educational licenses and limited tools didn't suit client projects. We wanted to move to the public cloud and see what benefits it would bring us," Räsänen explains. He also emphasizes the smooth collaboration with Gapps and clear infrastructure provided by Google Cloud:

When the cloud is comprehensively set up and documented, its value is extremely significant. A secure and widely recognized excellent public cloud becomes a dependable, shared workspace for collaborating companies."
-Erkki Räsänen, Senior Lecturer at Metropolia

Gapps attentively addressed Metropolia's requirements, swiftly identifying an appropriate operational model. Metropolia was provided with a managed and secure Google Cloud infrastructure foundation for use in research, development, and innovation activities, as well as collaborative projects with companies. This was achieved through the implementation of infrastructure-as-code (Terraform), allowing for a secure and governed way of scaling deployments.

Empowering Small Businesses: A Secure and Managed Cloud Sandbox for Innovation Activities

Metropolia's “ Smart and Clean Solutions" competence area brings together strong industries and interdisciplinary expertise. This specialization places a strong emphasis on training skilled professionals and making a meaningful impact on the local community while underscoring the importance of internationalization. Through the collaborative efforts of Gapps and Metropolia, a groundbreaking approach to business collaboration has emerged—a crafted, pre-built sandbox designed to empower project organizations. 

The sandbox is intended to serve as a playing field for development, research, and innovation during projects. This collaborative sandbox is not merely a technical platform but also a fully audited, GDPR-compliant, and cyber-secure environment with an optimal architecture. The platform not only facilitates collaboration with experts and developers to rapidly cultivate expertise but also includes business development mentoring. In research and development projects, a significant benefit was identified as project companies could produce services on an audited infrastructure, with data protection documentation available even after the project's completion.

Many smaller businesses and startups lack the resources to conduct comprehensive audits, but with our platform, they can seamlessly scale their operations. The positive feedback we've received about the system underscores its value," Räsänen elaborates.

This innovative model has attracted significant interest. A prime example of a collaborative project facilitated by the new platform is the swift development of an HR chatbot, executed by Metropolia students in only six weeks. The chatbot, alongside its AI-driven HR handbook, is now undergoing global testing. "Success stories such as these continue to develop as we continuously improve our understanding," Räsänen adds with a smile.

Another significant project enabled by the new cloud structure focuses on the employment and integration of highly educated immigrants into Finnish society. Metropolia's ICT students can join the GCP team, and companies have the opportunity to conduct Proof of Concept projects while also providing employment opportunities for students. This setup allows students to complete internships and opens up recruitment opportunities.

"This initiative has proven remarkably successful, with approximately 70% of the GCP team formed of international students. The agility of learning, outside the traditional degree program, has also been increased through Google Skills Bootcamps, and many students have earned certificates that expedite their learning in the ever-evolving world of AI," Räsänen explains.

It's truly inspiring to witness Metropolia's approach in this collaboration - establishing a robust foundation aligned with their operational model and giving precedence to security. Metropolia's pioneering approach to development and innovation undoubtedly fosters tangible collaboration with their partner companies and provides students with advanced cloud solutions in a user-friendly and secure manner."
Tuomas Hulkkonen, CTO at Gapps.

Project Success: Establishment of a Secure Cloud Environment for Innovative R&D Business Collaboration

The secure Google Cloud infrastructure has enabled seamless and secure collaboration in education and development projects. An innovative cloud solution was tailored to meet the specific needs of Metropolia, providing a secure and agile way to engage with businesses and international partners.

"Gapps' Google Cloud Infrastructure Foundation service was an excellent package, exceeding customer expectations. The attentive listening to customer needs, coupled with Gapps' expertise and patience made the entire project smooth and successful. In addition to the consultative aspect, we also received comprehensive documentation, offering a valuable resource for future reference and retrieval of necessary information," summarizes Räsänen, reflecting on the successful collaboration with Gapps.

What is OCRE & Geant Framework?

The Open Clouds for Research Environments project (OCRE), aims to accelerate cloud adoption in the European research community, by bringing together cloud providers, Earth Observation (EO) organisations and the research and education community, through ready-to-use service agreements.

GÉANT is the collaboration of European National Research and Education Networks (NRENs). GÉANT delivers an information ecosystem of infrastructure and services to advance research, education, and innovation on a global scale. GÉANT Cloud Framework by OCRE aims to reduce the cost and complexity of cloud service procurement and complies with all relevant EU Regulations .