Teaching continuity #3: unprecedented measures to cope with the exponential growth in ENT Practices

[Press release]

Published on March 16, 2020 by Laure - Updated on 14 mai 2024 à 11H15

The exceptional situation in which our country finds itself as a result of the accelerating Covid-19 epidemic means that all operators of digital services platforms, including Kosmos, must mobilize to cope with the foreseeable explosion in Practices.

In an initial phase of rising tension, this exponential growth in Practices may temporarily generate access difficulties. However, the situation is now generally under control, thanks to the unprecedented measures taken very quickly by our teams mobilized to deal with this unprecedented crisis, and our proactive analysis of the situation. In this press release, we would like to inform you of these measures and their impact, and share with you our conviction that we can collectively rise to the challenge.


Our presence in Haut-Rhin and Bas-Rhin, two counties particularly hard hit by the health crisis, enabled us to gain initial feedback from March 13 on the impact on an ENT of the closure of schools in a given area, and to anticipate what might happen at national level.

In these two counties, since the closure of Secondary schools and High schools, ENT has become the preferred platform for ensuring Teaching continuity..
We immediately Grade an explosion of Practices, mainly around :
  • Mailboxes to inform families and the Educational community in general. In the Haut Rhin region alone (60 Secondary schools closed), several hundred thousand emails were sent in just a few hours to inform the Educational community,
  • Educational services for the provision of Educational resources and work instructions for students and the Teacher/Student link: Organiser, educational services, etc...
The average number of daily visits to closed Schools has increased multiplied by 5, with peaks reaching 10 times the pre-closure connection level. In addition, the length of session per User on the ENT increased significantly, with users spending more time on the ENT once logged in.

In view of these factors, it's easy to imagine that the closure of all schools would create an exceptional situation that could be considered force majeure situation which will have a considerable impact not only on the technical and software infrastructures of the ENTs, but also on the organization and security of the teams responsible for maintaining them in operational condition.

The closure of all Schools as of this Monday will lead to unpredictable and sudden Practices and behaviors.

To cope with this, we have put in place exceptional measures to ensure maximum quality of service for all.

Emergency technical measures

To date, our infrastructures (network, routers, haproxy , smtp servers, physical servers (database...) and virtual (web, authentication...)data storage, back-up...) represent more than 700 machines for all the 3,600 Secondary schools and High schools using our Skolengo ENT solution. Nearly 40 million visits were recorded on our ENTs in November 2019.

Based on initial feedback from the Haut-Rhin region and the wealth of Teaching content on the ENT, we believe that this infrastructure needs to be almost doubled, with traffic forecasts which could very quickly reach 200 million visits per month.

Our first actions therefore consisted in taking strict measures to protect the staff in charge of maintaining ENTs in operational condition: travel restrictions, controlled barriers, increased VPN capacity and telecommuting. In terms of infrastructure, we have also increased the capacity of our network bridges (10-fold increase in capacity), doubled the capacity of our HAproxy infrastructures of virtual and physical machines dedicated to reinforcing ENT infrastructures in our datacenter.

Setting up a crisis unit and action plan

Since the announcement by the President of the Republic on Thursday evening, a reinforced taskforce of more than 20 employees has been mobilized under the leadership of the Group's Director of Operations. Our Group Technical Director, architects, product team (functional experts, developers, testers, release managers), system and network experts are working to define and implement the best technical and functional response to this exceptional situation.

Last Friday, this taskforce defined, in a very short space of time, a global operational action plan to cope with the decision to close the Schools completely, including a complete review of the infrastructures deployed for each of the ENTs in anticipation of the very strong growth in Practices.

Our action plan revolves around the implementation of immediate measures, deployed this weekend, and the definition of optional scenarios that could be activated depending on the state of the network.s depending on the state of traffic on our platforms from Monday March 16 (first day of closure of all Schools in France).

It should be noted that we are simultaneously undergoing a number of DDOS attacks on our infrastructures, which are having a negative impact on performance.

Measurement details

Detailed measurements have been exchanged with each of our customers over the last 72 hours.
Important measures include
  • We are setting up a connection tunnel to access our range of Services. Beyond a certain threshold of connected users for Student and Parent profiles, additional users wishing to access the ENT service in authenticated mode will be put on hold to guarantee optimum service to connected users. The public part of each ENT will of course remain operational, and public communication with the Educational community will be possible without restriction.
  • Certain functional quota measures have also been identified and integrated into a product version produced by the taskforce over the weekend. These are functionalities that consume technical resources but have little added value for a distance teaching situation.
  • Suspension of notifications to external addresses to limit the number of messages sent to external addresses, and thus avoid ENT being blacklisted by ISPs as a spam server
  • deactivation of certain blocks of aggregated information on the personal Home page
  • deactivation of automated Timetable imports, which will remain available in manual mode
We have also decided to suspend the delivery of any new functionalities until further notice, in order to concentrate all our resources on service quality and additional optimizations to be made in the coming days or weeks.

We will, of course, continue to work closely with the Regional education authorities on the overall quality of service of the ENT throughout the connection chain, including the academic authentication desks managed by the Regional education IT departments.

Finally, following our review of the infrastructures of each ENT and our forecasts for connections over the next few days, we are recommending that our customers reinforce their project infrastructures byadditional technical capabilities web servers and CAS authentication, database servers dedicated to Mailbox, mail servers, storage capacity...

These reinforcements should be considered in addition to the above functional contingency measures. Detailed proposals, based on the existing infrastructure of each project, are provided.

With regard to these technical capacities, we have a stock of equipment that we are in the process of provisioning for ENT. That said, we would like to inform you that beyond this stock, supply lead times with our equipment suppliers have become uncertain, the latter also being impacted by covid 19 due to the closure of factories and port transport facilities.

Dear customers, we are moving towards unprecedented levels of Practices on our platforms. We are confident in the scope of the measures we have been implementing since Friday, even if we are also dependent on external infrastructures over which we have no control. Nevertheless, we remain extremely vigilant, and our taskforce will remain on high alert over the coming days and weeks.

The coordination of our actions with Regional education authorities and Local authorities will be a key success factor in the coming days, if we are to achieve the teaching continuity objectives set by the government, and to which we know you are particularly attached.

Through all these measures, Kosmos wishes to demonstrate its operational reliability, but above all it intends to participate in the national effort required of everyone to ensure that the probable confinement measures that will take place in the next few days do not destroy either social or educational ties. We know you share this requirement, and we thank you for your confidence.