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Republic Polytechnic’s School of Infocomm (RP SOI) uses real world examples to augment lesson delivery. Each student has access to their own learning compute environment in the laboratory designed to simulate an actual scenario. The current practice of ensuring an error-free daily deployment of the lab environments is time consuming but yet critical for lesson delivery. This consumes considerable man hours for backend infrastructure support. As such, the school’s infrastructure support team had to proactively review software automation tools to optimize the management of its IT infrastructure.
The RP SOI technical support team applied a combination of Bolt and Puppet Enterprise, using a Puppet master in a monolithic setup integrated with GitLab. Routine scripts were run with Bolt to be rolled into Puppet tasks for streamlined daily workloads. This created uniformity across machines, redirected efforts spent correcting manual errors, and allowed the team to manage its deployment of resources more effectively.
Established in 2002, Republic Polytechnic is the first higher education institution in Singapore to leverage the Problem-based Learning approach for all its diploma programmes. Republic Polytechnic (RP) has seven schools and one academic centre offering 37 full-time diplomas in Applied Science, Engineering, Management and Communication, Hospitality, Infocomm, Sports, Health & Leisure, and Technology for the Arts.
In 2019, its School of Infocomm (SOI) embarked on an initiative to deploy software automation tools to manage its student lab environment and backend IT infrastructure more effectively by reducing the need to perform repetitive tasks. The RP’s SOI’s technical support team managed to significantly reduce its reconfiguration and restoration time for learning labs, allowing it to redirect its resources towards other student initiatives.
By using Bolt and Puppet Enterprise, the School of Infocomm was able to supplement its IT curriculum with industry-relevant updates.
The School of Infocomm used Puppet for its resource abstraction layer to converge to a common platform using a single programming language. Puppet implements a human-readable language, also commonly referred to as Puppet DSL.
The result was a uniform and structured platform that offered simple adoption and implementation for the school’s support team, instructors, and students.
Tasks that initially required knowledge of Linux commands by trained system administrators could be delegated to any of the IT Services staff through the Puppet Enterprise console, saving resources and decreasing response time.
To complement the School of Infocomm’s efforts to support student learning, Puppet was able to assist with providing quick configurations on a regular basis so that the school’s technical support team could spend more time innovating and less time addressing break-fix issues.
One of the students’ courses, involving firewall administration, requires 20 firewalls to be configured uniformly and correctly and had to be reset daily after the classes. With the puppet firewall module implementation, results are guaranteed to be correct and configuration time dropped from 2 hours to 15 minutes for all the firewalls. This allows the technical support team more time to render assistance to other team members.
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