University of Otago gives back to students with Citrix

“We wanted to enable our students to use resources anywhere, on any device, at any time, and Citrix was the most mature offering allowing us to do this."

New Zealand’s oldest tertiary institution, the University of Otago, has deployed Citrix XenApp and Citrix XenDesktop across all faculties, as part of the 145-year-old university's ICT strategy.

The installation of the Citrix technology, which includes a complete ICT systems refresh, extends the lecture theatre and classroom beyond traditional campus boundaries.

Mike Harte, Director IT Services at the University, says the exponential growth of students bringing their own device to campus made it the perfect time for the university to step into the new world of education.

“We wanted to enable our students to use resources anywhere, on any device, at any time, and Citrix was the most mature offering allowing us to do this," he says.

"Our previous Novell based system was introduced in 1999 at which time 14 per cent of our students owned a laptop and none a smart phone.

"Today 98 per cent own a laptop and 92 per cent a smart phone capable of accessing the internet."

With students increasingly demanding remote access to learning materials, the University of Otago developed a virtual environment with Citrix XenDesktop and Citrix XenApp, delivering access to over 60 software applications including Office 365, SPSS, and Netbeans.

The University will also provide access via HTML5 to cater for operating systems, such as Chromebooks, at a later date.

Having previously supported 1,600 university provided desktops servicing 21,000 students, using the new virtual environment the University of Otago is able to cater for its entire student body across 23,500 devices including up to 7,000 concurrent users.

Combined with Citrix Netscaler for access gateway and traffic monitoring, the virtual environment has reduced student log in times from four minutes to 25 seconds.

With more than 750,000 logins to the desktop annually, this improvement is expected to save students 45,000 hours a year.

Simultaneously, the project, which will go live in time for the new semester, was completed well under budget with capabilities far exceeding the University of Otago’s initial expectations.

“We’ve seen a number of productivity gains with the new environment, and have been delighted to see students and staff benefitting from anywhere access," Harte adds.

"Cloud technologies, like those we’ve deployed from Citrix, will continue to influence our IT strategy in the coming years as we explore the most secure and economical ways to give staff and students complex flexibility to get their work done, regardless of location or device."

In addition to the 21,000 students making use of the infrastructure nationwide, the University’s Christchurch campus is working to rollout a staff version of the service that will see the provision of more on-premise storage.

This project is expected to be rolled out in the first half of 2015.

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