Improving the student experience with virtualized apps at University of Surrey
The University of Surrey has a central IT department working in partnership with four faculties. In order to keep up to date with the dynamic technology market and to continue providing cutting edge systems to staff and students, the IT team saw an opportunity to improve its current software delivery and distribution process.
Improving the student IT experience with virtualized application delivery - Project Background
The University of Surrey is one of the UK’s leading professional, scientific and technological universities with a world class research profile and a reputation for excellence in teaching and research. In addition to the campus on 150 hectares just outside Guildford, in Surrey, the university also owns and runs the Surrey Research Park. The university is one of the region’s largest employers with over 2,500 staff and 17,900 students living and working on and around campus.
The Sunday Times names Surrey as ‘The University for Jobs' which underlines the university’s growing reputation for providing high-quality, relevant degrees.
Surrey is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, whilst ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.
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The university IT team needs to ensure the provision of fit-for-purpose systems on a secure and reliable infrastructure whilst delivering efficient and cost-effective solutions for staff and students.
In the past, the central IT team and the four faculties operated in a more independent way. Staff and students from each faculty used specific applications on top of the standard business packages and every IT faculty team was responsible for maintaining its own student computer rooms; upgrading, installing, uninstalling and testing software applications as required.
As software started to become increasingly complex, the maintenance overheads increased, leading to reduced efficiency in spite of the stringent PC replacement process that the university follows every 3 to 4 years. Overall, the IT support staff spent a large amount of time manually installing software applications and resolving difficulties that arose when integrating new applications on the computers.
As soon as the central and four faculties IT teams started working together, it was recognised that a tool to manage the university’s software catalogue was needed in order to maximise the use of resources, to speed up the delivery of services and to enhance the student experience.
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Virtualizing apps at the University of Surrey
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The search for a software management solution that would work across the university computers was on.
When we were looking at what we could do across the faculties and central IT’s application delivery, we could see the big win was clearly software management. Many people on the IT team were unhappy with the current software platform and processes, so it seemed the way forward.
James Pickett, Senior Desktop Analyst
After seeking advice on the subject from other universities and consultancies, it was decided that software virtualization was the route to take. The project team investigated the best-known, market-leading products. Upon closer investigation it became apparent that only around 80% of the software could be moved onto these products as they could not support certain complex applications.
It was at this point that the project team discovered AppsAnywhere which claimed to be able to go that vital step further than the market leaders and deliver almost 100% of the software. Following vendor presentations, the university IT team carried out a proof-of-concept trial between one of the market-leading products and AppsAnywhere.
It was a competitive trial period but AppsAnywhere, provided by Software2, emerged as the winner. The benefits AppsAnywhere offers will enable the university IT team to streamline their software management process.
With AppsAnywhere we are all using the same product, at the same level, so it has really helped to improve our software delivery and distribution process across the university.
Dy Gunasekara, System Analyst
A major advantage of AppsAnywhere over other products is that it reduces the duplication of efforts across the university IT team in terms of software building, installation and maintenance.
We found working with Software2 extremely helpful as they listened to us. We found particularly useful the Software2 User Days and the online user community; it is encouraging to know that some of the change requests from previous community days are going to be part of the next release. In general, a good experience to work with them and at the end of the day, it just works well.
Phil Vacher, Collaboration, Desktop & Storage Systems team leader
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