Senckenberg Nature Research Society

SGN selected VIBE to create a central portal spanning six Senckenberg institutes across eight locations in Germany, helping scientists collaborate on advanced research.


"The combination of VIBE and Access Manager provides a flexible, secure and user-friendly environment for sharing information and collaborating on projects. The solution also has minimal IT resource overhead, because team leaders can manage access rights without requiring input from IT specialists."Lothar MennerHead of IT, SGN

About Senckenberg Nature Research Society

Senckenberg Nature Research Society (Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, SGN) is headquartered in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and has 700 employees (including project staff, research assistants, Ph.D. students and research interns). The institute conducts research in the fields of biodiversity, zoology, botany, palaeontology, anthropology and ecology. In 2008, the newly founded biodiversity and climate research centre was added to its portfolio. Senckenberg also contributes to major marine conservation projects throughout Germany and beyond.

Challenge

Scientific research is typically a collective endeavour, involving direct collaboration between tens or hundreds of people, supported by information generated in other institutions across the globe. With the aim of facilitating the exchange of information and ideas between members of its own scientific community, SGN wanted to break down the geographic barriers between its various sites.

The organisation set out to create a single information portal that would connect six institutes across eight locations in Germany, capable of acting as a single point of access for all resources in the extended research network. A key aim was to enable the creation of dynamic project teams, helping scientists to collaborate across different locations and even different disciplines. Flexibility was another must—SGN wanted the new portal to empower scientists to create their own ways of working and sharing information, and to allow the involvement of selected scientists from other institutions around the world.

Our Solution

SGN considered building its own portal and collaboration solution based on free, open source tools, but concluded that it lacked the internal resources to undertake such a project. Instead, the institution selected VIBE, gaining an enterprise collaboration solution designed to enable rapid deployment across mixed IT work environments.

"The decision in favour of VIBE was quite easy: not only did it offer the functionality we needed 'out of the box', but it also promised tight integration with our existing infrastructure," said Lothar Menner, Head of IT at SGN. "Equally, we were impressed with the usability of the Novell (now a part of Micro Focus) solution, which we felt would give the scientists the flexibility they need, while minimising the administrative effort and costs for our IT team."

SGN worked with G+H Netzwerk-Design, a Platinum Partnerâ„ , to implement VIBE on SUSE® Linux Enterprise Server.

"G+H's experience from working on similar VIBE deployments proved highly valuable, as they were able to advise us on which features to roll out first," said Menner. "For example, G+H proposed that the use of individual workspaces would represent a good opportunity for new employees to make themselves known to their colleagues, so we chose to introduce them. They also ensured that the content and templates in VIBE matched our corporate standards."

G+H also helped SGN to implement Access Manager™ and integrate it with VIBE. Access Manager authenticates registered Web-based users of the new portal against the corporate directory, providing secure access and enabling the use of a single password for all resources.

In addition to acting as the gateway to shared team spaces, wikis, discussion forums, and file stores, the new portal provides a new HelpDesk application, which has been implemented on the portal platform Liferay. This application has been developed by G+H.

Results

With VIBE, the scientists working at SGN can easily create their own project teams, build shared online workspaces, post information and documentation, create shared wikis, and much more.

"The major advantage of VIBE is its flexibility, which enables our users to adapt their workspaces to suit the changing group dynamics," said Menner. "This is particularly important in a research environment, where everything is continually evolving as team members change and as new lines of enquiry emerge."

The use of Access Manager has enabled SGN to involve global research partners in internal projects without compromising security. Access Manager also makes it easier for scientists who are working out of office to access central services, without having to re-enter passwords all the time.

"The combination of VIBE and Access Manager provides a flexible, secure and user-friendly environment for sharing information and collaborating on projects," said Menner. "The solution also has minimal IT resource overhead, because team leaders can manage access rights without requiring input from IT specialists."

Education

GermanyEurope

  • Easier for scientists who are working out of office to access central services
  • Provides a flexible, secure and user-friendly environment

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