The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

German Edge Cloud
Experience – Information technology

GEC wins contract for schools video platform

Although remote teaching is commonplace at schools in Hesse, there has been no standardised and secure software solution – until now. German Edge Cloud (GEC) is changing all that. The Hessian Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and the Arts has commissioned the cloud experts from Eschborn to embed the BigBlueButton video platform into the federal state’s digital schools portal.

Text Lisa Glaßner ––– Photography

Video lessons have become an integral part of school life these days, just as much as in-person lessons. In Hesse alone, that applies to more than 600,000 children and young people. The technology involved needs to be at the very top of its game if teaching conducted via live video streaming is to make it into homes without a hitch and without jerking, buffering or, worse still, crashing completely as thousands of pupils log on. The video platform needs to be stable even under high traffic and be easy to use for both teachers and pupils.

However, what matters most is that it is secure. The personal data of children, young people of school age and teachers must be given the strongest possible protection. So far, many pupils in Hesse have used software tools such as Teams or Zoom for remote lessons, but data protection officers in the German federal state have complained about weaknesses when it comes to using these tools for educational purposes. That led the Hessian Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and the Arts to issue a Europe- wide invitation to tender for the operation of a data-protection-compliant videoconferencing system. In August, GEC won the contract from the Ministry to integrate the proposed open-source software BigBlueButton into the state’s schools portal. The experts from GEC are already responsible for the portal’s cloud architecture.


Dr Sebastian Ritz, CEO Cloud & Edge at GEC, explains why the solution was picked: “BigBlueButton is an open-source solution that can be freely used and modified and incorporates useful administration options for schools and teachers. This was backed up by the load and functional tests that GEC carried out for the Ministry as part of the tender process.” Additional plus points are that GEC is ensuring the system is run in compliance with ISO 27001 in terms of data security and the software satisfies the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It is being hosted in European or German data centres and is especially robust. Up to 200,000 pupils and teachers can communicate with each other over the video platform simultaneously.

“Over the course of a day, as many as one to two million users can access the platform, provided they don’t all try to use it at exactly the same time,” adds Supriyo Bhattacharya, Director Sales Cloud & Edge at GEC. “The administrators don’t need to acquire any special new expertise and we are supporting the Ministry through every step in the cloud implementation process,” explains Ritz.


BigBlueButton has been available to pupils and teachers in Hesse since the end of September as part of a step-by-step process tailored to demand. However, the contract is certainly not done and dusted for GEC – quite the opposite, in fact: “We are continuously enhancing the standard solution to meet the Ministry’s needs,” points out Bhattacharya, emphasising that, “This is only the start. The platform is being developed so it can be turned into a cloud-native solution for school administration software and a basis for digital teaching and learning options.” The benefits are clear, with continuous updates and maintenance, scalable storage technology for platform data and backups making life a whole lot easier for administrators. The Ministry has known that GEC makes digital learning possible since the first day of school in 2021, when 100,000 users logged into Hesse’s schools portal simultaneously at 9 a.m. – without a hitch. GEC supplied the scalable cloud architecture that made such high user numbers viable while ensuring ease of use. That was all the more important during the lockdowns, when the state’s schools portal had to cope with enormous user traffic. “We’ve learned a lot from the COVID pandemic,” explains Ritz. “Our experience with the schools portal project fed into the tender process for the video platform.” To balance out sudden load spikes and ensure up to 2.5 million users can be handled, GEC implemented Hesse’s schools portal on the basis of dynamic resource expansion.

As the Ministry itself explains: “The platform, which has been hosted by German Edge Cloud since 2020, has proven itself to be stable even at times of very high demand.” The BigBlueButton videoconferencing system promises the same performance.

  • Ensuring digital learning is fun

    Ensuring digital learning is fun

    Interview with Prof. R. Alexander Lorz, Hessian Minister for Higher Education, Research, Science and the Arts:

    Do you think it’s an advantage to be working with a Hessian company on the new videoconferencing system for Hesse’s schools?

    The geographical location of bidders in the tender process for the new videoconferencing system was neither an advantage nor a disadvantage. German Edge Cloud won the contract because its data-protection-compliant solution impressed us. All user data is kept on European servers. Naturally, as a politician for the region, I am pleased that a Hessian company won the contract. Hesse has an excellent reputation for digital innovation.

    What were your priorities when deciding between bidders?

    Data protection naturally came first and foremost. That’s where GEC won us over completely. The open-source solution is in line with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and is being run on European or German servers. That guarantees a high level of security.

    What was the most important criterion besides security?

    That the new videoconferencing system should be easy for pupils and teachers to use. I see that as a crucial prerequisite for ensuring digital learning is fun. Most importantly, GEC has the expertise to take users with little prior experience up into the cloud. Pupils and teachers using Hesse’s schools portal are already benefiting from that. Despite high user traffic, it is running smoothly.


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