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AU Conference Center Desktop Cloud, a Secure and Efficient Office Platform

2016/11/18 0:00:00

Background

Consisting of 54 African member countries, the African Union (AU) is a continent-wide political entity that integrates politics, economics, and the military. The major task of the AU is to maintain and promote the peace and stability of the African continent, to pursue reform and poverty reduction strategies, and to realize the development and rejuvenation of Africa. The AU aims to construct an Africa featuring solidarity and cooperation, enabling its member countries to express their opinions with one voice on major international affairs. The AU also actively implemented the 2001 New Partnership for African Development, promoting the infrastructure construction of its member countries, attracting foreign investment and aid, and promoting the economic integration of the African continent.

Challenges

As the highest-ranking political organization in Africa and a continent-wide political entity, the AU conducts a large number of meetings and demands vast amounts of information processing, creating huge service challenges:
  • The AU organizes a large number of African regional and international meetings each year — all requiring high levels of information security. Traditional PCs were vulnerable to information loss, hacker attacks, phishing software attacks, virus attacks, and information leakage.
  • The AU averages the organization of more than 600 meetings per year with meeting minutes needing to be translated into English, French, Arabic, and Portuguese for delivery to participants. The costs of printing meeting minutes were high. If meeting minutes were modified shortly before a meeting, not only did all meeting minutes have to be reprinted, but also the meeting could be postponed. To reduce manpower and costs, and to improve meeting efficiency, the AU considered the feasibility of paperless meeting minutes browsed through IT systems.
  • New problems were generated when considering using IT systems. The power consumption of traditional IT systems was high. PC hosts needed to be upgraded every three years, and continuous investment was required, with or without system expansion. The power consumption of a PC was about 200W, and high operational costs were required for large-scale deployment of PCs. The complexity of PC line deployment affected the neatness and order of the meeting site.
  • With 54 member countries, some of the staff frequently travel for business, and high-ranking leaders work in mobile offices regularly. With traditional IT systems, mobile terminals were faced with the following problems: Delay of information synchronization, high requirements for application bandwidth between clients and servers, and work-mode inflexibility.
  • The traditional IT systems needed frequent upgrades of operating systems and applications. Maintenance personnel spent most of their time installing and configuring the software and hardware and diagnosing faults. Maintenance costs were high but efficiency was low. When important meetings were organized, additional large numbers of PCs (for participants and media personnel) were required. These urgent IT demands were difficult to manage and could affect the smooth operation of the AU.
The new AU conference center was completed at the end of November 2011. Consisting of office buildings, meeting equipment, and support facilities, the AU conference center is a modern, large-scale comprehensive office and conference center, which includes large conference rooms with more than 2,000 seats, medium conference rooms with more than 600 seats, digital libraries, career development centers, broadcast rooms, and medical centers. The AU conference center is completely equipped with Wi-Fi, video surveillance, and video conferencing devices.
The architecture of the conference center is unique — however, a first-class architecture was not enough for the modernization of the conference center. With the upcoming 18th AU conference, a substantial upgrade of core IT infrastructure was necessary in order to best deal with regional political and economic affairs and to showcase the truly modern image of the AU conference center.
This prompted the AU to seek ICT providers who could provide the best solution to fit their demands while highlighting the modern look of the center itself.

Solution

During their interaction with major ICT providers, cloud computing technology drew the AU’s attention. After many discussions with Huawei, the AU recognized the high value brought by the Huawei FusionCloud Desktop Solution. This solution creates a centralized sharing of computing and resource storage, unified management of cloud databases, and solves problems caused by traditional PCs with information security, office efficiency, and O&M management.
Based on Huawei’s active success in the cloud computing field and the on-hand information of the state-of-art technology, the AU decided to deploy Huawei FusionCloud Desktop Solution to ensure the success of the 18th AU conference.
With Huawei’s solution, the AU’s problems were solved. All computing and storage resources were centrally stored in the data center. Only a display, a keyboard, and a mouse were configured for the client, thereby creating an eco-friendly environment for participants who could browse meeting minutes through this virtual desktop. Huawei FusionCloud Desktop Solution not only saved manpower and costs for AU, but also provided a centralized management platform for IT personnel, thereby improving efficiency and simplifying O&M.
  • Neat, quiet, and eco-friendly, customized TCs with Wi-Fi access
With FusionCloud Desktop Solution deployed, all computing and storage resources were centrally stored in the AU’s data center and seamlessly connected to the original IT system. Users could use a Thin Client (TC) or any other device that was connected to the network to access traditional desktop applications.
The AU conference center was equipped with Wi-Fi hotspots and, to meet the AU’s requirements, Huawei customized TCs with Wi-Fi access — the first use of TCs with Wi-Fi access in the industry. Without using integrated cabling in the conference center, the office environment was clean and neat.
  • Security
With traditional desktop architecture, OS and applications were installed on the local PC. Saved on the local PC, information was vulnerable to virus attacks and the plaintext transmission of data was vulnerable to stealing. With the FusionCloud Desktop Solution, user terminals and information are separated. Computing, storage, and management of information are all stored on the servers in the AU data center, minimizing the possibility of information leakage. TC security mechanisms such as authentication and encrypted transmission ensure the security of FusionCloud Desktop Solution and eliminated the AU’s worries about information security.
  • Mobile office
Centralized storage of information enables users to seamlessly switch work locations without interruption. By using mobile terminal devices, such as smart phones and tablet PCs, the AU staff can connect to services and management systems on the cloud to operate remotely and work efficiently anytime and anywhere. 
  • Centralized O&M management
With all data and applications stored in the data center, centralized management and flexible scheduling of resources became possible. Not only was resource utilization improved, but also a unified O&M model was generated. Huawei FusionCloud Desktop Solution took only three minutes to complete the process from VM application to provisioning. By installing software and patching the OS in a unified manner, allocation and on-demand use of resources could be done quickly, fulfilling the IT requirements of urgent meetings.

Benefits

  • Optimized services
Meeting minutes do not need to be printed, reducing manpower and capital expenditure. Employees can focus on key service processes.
  • Neat, quiet, and eco-friendly meeting environment
After TCs were configured in the AU conference center, PC hosts were no longer needed on office desks and only displays are required. Not only is the working experience the same as that of traditional office desks, but also office capabilities are retained.
In addition, the total power consumption of a TC and a display is about 70W and the noise generated by a TC is only 10 dB, thereby making the working environment quieter and reducing electricity fees by more than 70%.
  • Security assurance for sensitive meetings
User terminals are separated from data and all data is stored in the data center, thereby preventing the system from being attacked and eliminating information leakage. Security of meeting data is ensured by using mechanisms such as terminal authentication access and encrypted transmission.
  • Centralized O&M
Huawei FusionCloud Desktop Solution provides a unified O&M management platform that reduces the workload of IT engineers, improves O&M efficiency, and enhances user satisfaction.

“We appreciate the excellent work Huawei has done for the 18th AU conference. Huawei provided the desktop cloud system for this AU conference and worked with MIS department of the AU to finish deploying the system within three weeks, at high quality and high efficiency. The brilliant performance of the system helps us improve the working mode and efficiency of the conference.”
— A Quote from the thank you letter written by the AU to the Chinese Embassy in Ethiopia and to Huawei