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Author of the Resource Posted on by Peter Cooke in Student Experience, BYOD

Campus labs, BYOD and open-access areas; solving Higher Ed IT challenges

In this webinar recording, Software2 Co-Founder and President Tony Austwick takes a look at how University IT can improve the student experience by providing a better technology service.

By delivering all your academic software from a centralized platform to any device anywhere, Higher Ed can meet the deamnds and needs of today's students. Tony shares his experience of working with more than 200 institutions across the globe, as well as his thoughts as to the role of IT in a 21st century university.

Learn more about:

  • Supporting campus computer labs more effectively
  • Providing licensed software in open-access learning areas
  • Enable student BYOD and off-campus access to resources

It's important for IT to focus on the students and how they use technology. Not the technology itself! Provide a better IT service by delivering all your academic applications on-demand from a centralized platform on any device.


Webinar recording


About the speaker

Tony Austwick: As Co-Founder and President of Software2, there's nobody on the planet who knows more about delivering software apps in a Higher Education IT environment than Tony does! Tony strives to demonstrate how technology can and should be used as a service that improves the student learning experience and student outcomes. 


Webinar slides


Webinar transcription

Thank you for joining the webinar where we are going to talk to you about 20 minutes or so about delivering a better it service to your students. And more specifically we're going to really focus on how you deliver a better IT service to students through provisioning, the application resources you have to a minimal and more modern, manner than is traditionally done. So the agenda for today, we'll talk a little bit about background, both background with myself and of course the background of Software2 we are the experts in this area. We'll talk about, the unique challenges faced by higher education around delivering applications as a service to the students. I don't think it is fair to put you in the same bracket and the same bucket as the corporate world when it comes to delivering applications. The challenges are certainly unique to the environment, the challenging environment you have. 

And we'll focus on some of your key use cases around application delivery. You've got probably different environments that you want to consider and how you deliver might be very different, So it's the lab environment that's your traditional teaching areas. Your open access areas where students can just go and grab a machine. And of course potentially the utopia of utilizing students' own devices and being able to deliver the software resources at your disposal when you've got the right licenses to students' own devices. And of course, rather than just looking at these as individual technologies and tools to deliver that, how do we do it all in a coherent and concise service. So our background Software2 have been doing this now for 10 years and we set up Software2 10 years ago with sole remit, the sole purpose we exist today is to help universities and higher education institutes deliver a better service to flexibly provisioning applications to students. 

And over those 10 years, we've built up a considerable user basis on the most, but just prestigious universities and colleges around the world. We have customers all across Europe, middle East, South Africa, and North America and I've visited probably over 400 different institutions in my time in the last 10 years. And what strikes me, what is surprising, maybe it shouldn't be surprising after 10 years, but what is surprising is how you all face the same challenges. It doesn't matter how big you are, where you are based, what language you speak. You all have the same challenges I presented in Spain and my Spanish isn't very good and it's the same challenges. And we can,, coherently communicate what the challenge is and what the solutions to the problems could potentially be. So I've been doing this for a very long time now and we've solved it for a lot of those, like I say over 200 customers utilizing the solutions and the technologies to make this available. 

But it is such a challenging environment that it's not easy. How you managed to do it's today, you should put yourselves a Pat on the back and say, well done. And I keep talking about the challenges in Higher Ed, you probably, you may not realize why it's so different. It is nothing like the corporate world. So I recommend that you don't just utilize the tools that are available to the corporate world. And you look at something that is unique and specific to you guys. Why is the environment? It's different to the corporate world in many ways. The first way of course is in the corporate world. It's very specific. It's very focused on one thing and accountancy firm uses accountancy software and architect firm probably uses AutoCAD or something around those lines. But in a university, in a college you have hundreds of different applications and that's because of the nature of the beast.

You have so many different disciplines in the different faculties and each course might have their own applications. And from the, from even the smallest examples that we come across there at least a hundred applications in that environment. And then the biggest, normally around 500 plus applications can exist. That doesn't exist in the corporate world. In addition, you'll have thousands of devices. Now that might be similar to some large corporates, but typically in a large corporate, it's a one to one relationship between the device in the end user. And if that end user only has five or six applications like yourself, the problem is not particularly difficult to solve. And usually traditional kind of SCCM imaging to deliver that gets a bit more complicated. You might use some other tools, but it's pretty straight forward. But in your world, thousands of devices that are kiosk based. . Not owned by a specific individual. 

So the students go to your windows LAB estate your open access estate, but they might use a different computer every single time. And of course over the last 10 years we've seen the divergence of devices. we don't just talk about windows now we talk about Macs and now Chromebooks and tablets. And so how do we, effectively deal with that? And on top of that, you've got tens of thousands of users. It's large corporates that have that not just your average corporate. So, and in a utopian world, what you really want is any one of those students to go to any one of those devices and get any one of those applications and traditionally. It's not actually possible. There is actually one thing I probably failed to mention in amongst that, because the challenge gets even worse for you in So far as a third of your user base.

Your customers, your students, they leave every year and replaced by a whole brand new set of younger, more demanding students nowadays post-millennials who run everything now immediately. But every year your user base is circulated. It's changed. So you need a mechanism of onboarding that is simple and easy to follow, not complicated. So that says, well, if you're on a Mac and it's your Mac, you go here to get your App, Or if you're on a windows device in a lab, you go here to get your app, But if you're on a library machine, it's slightly different than it will be here. You need something that brings all of that together so that's the challenge. And now understanding that challenge means you've got to look at different ways of solving it. But part of that challenge let's have a look at three of the of the main use cases that you will want to look at. 

These are not the only use cases that you will have in the very, very early days of Software2. I was speaking to one of the universities and they said every use case exists in this institution for delivering an application, whether it's installed, delivered through VDI, delivered using application virtualization onsite, offsite, vacation based. Everything is not a use case that doesn't exist, so these are the three main ones, but not the only ones. It's about being able to deal with them all. The first use case I want to talk about is your lab machines, your own campus managed lab machines. There's typically will be windows. Okay. Most of the estate for the campus lab machines will be windows and what you really want to be able to do is flexibly deliver applications to any lab machine anywhere, not just specific applications in specific labs that may exist. 

If it's a hardware dependency, everything else, but all the other applications, why aren't they available in all of the labs? Yeah, and being able to flex them fully deliver any application to any campus labs machine. Well, it gets around certain issues inherent in the environment. If you can only put certain apps and certain labs, then you can only teach certain topics in certain labs. So it becomes a timetable in problem and a timetabling problem that is only there because of the solutions available to deliver applications. Okay. If you could deliver any app to any lab world and timetable and becomes a lot more easy, it also becomes easier if something happens and you have to move lab basements, get flooded, disaster strikes, we need to move that lab. But you can't, you have to cancel the class because the application doesn't exist anywhere else. But if you can flexibly deliver the application anywhere, then you don't need to worry about moments counting things.

Just one more example where this might be useful. You often have lecturers who want to deliver, you know, deliver the, uh, different versions of the same application. I've got a, uh, an old school lecture. You got old notes, he wants to use SPSS version 20. And then you've got, you know, young kid lecturer who wants the shiny strung new fastest, uh, application available. So he wants to lose the latest SPSS. Yeah, but you can't put them on the same machine. They don't sit side by side. So again, if you could just deliver on demand session based, well that solves that problem as well. Cool. Then we have our open access areas. Okay. These are areas that are open to the students outside the lab environment. Any student can rock up, login, get access to some software. It's typically a a cut down, uh, kind of image. 

Not all the software will go in there. Maybe some car applications. But again, why don't we think about opening up the access, uh, our access areas, the library, and be able to deliver all the applications to those machines as well. If they're capable of going into software, let's do that because that will then provide us with some additional benefits. Typically, labs, this is the case across most of the environments I see, uh, labs, uh, a time limited. They will be closed at specific times where libraries tend to be, uh, beyond those times and sometimes in many cases can be 24, seven. So if a student is working away doing his arc GIS work and gets to seven o'clock in the lab, shoot, well at the moment in the traditional environment, he, he has to go home and wait till the lab opens in the morning where he can go back and continue and say if you could move over to the library where he could continue his work on that machine and get some more work there. 

Yeah. That's the modern way of wanting to work. And the third use case that I think is really interesting is around BYO day. And when we talk about BUA software too, we don't just mean in a computer, uh, being in a laptop to a university and being given, uh, an internet connection. Uh, so I can access my email. We're talking about services, the value add around BYO D and being able to deliver something that's useful to all of them. And if you can imagine being able where you have the relevant licenses, imagine being able to deliver those applications directly to their device. Okay. Again, a lot more flexibility. And again, what's the, I guess the new wave of post-millennials are demanding. They access all of their services on their devices, whether that's Netflix or Apple music. I have no preference for those media. You can pick and choose, but imagine they can get their applications on those devices too. 

That's exactly what they want. And this, this can lead to longterm benefits for the organization as a whole. A lesser demand on campus labs we understate is often an issue. You know, as you get increasing in student numbers, what do you do about etc. So there could be a, uh, you know, a lesson in a slacking as the problem around, uh, campus labs, uh, and the time table, et cetera, by being able to flexibly deliver to all these different environments. And as you guys probably know, um, because of the complexity of that, the different locations, the different devices, the different use cases, there isn't actually one single silver bullet that exists to be able to deliver every act, every single device on demand. It does not exist. So what do people do at the moment? Well, they will resort to the traditional technologies, the technologies that were developed for the corporate world. 

The enterprise. Yeah. The environment I've told you about before, delivering number of applications to an individual who typically owns that, that device. Um, and okay. They're not really, they weren't really designed or developed for the higher ed for the red world where we've got the challenges we faced that we've already discussed. So what could we do? Well, we've got the old school as you all to, this is what most people are doing today. Um, this is imaging, uh, creating a base image, whether that's a centralized, uh, image that then gets passed onto the, the decentralized it departments in the faculties where effectively there's a central image with a load of apps baiting passed on. A lot of other apps get baited and then that image gets put on specific bumps. Okay. That's the, that's the traditional way of doing it. But that leads to many of the problems that we just discuss. 

Yeah. There is a student on a specific course and even the specific app has to go to a specific lab during specific times to, to get access to those resources. Doesn't sound like the modern world to me. That's why I've described it as old school. There's nothing wrong with it, but there's a better way of doing things. Some organizations may have looked at I guess what is out there, very common in the news all over the place around VDI, remote desktops and how, how it could potentially solve that problem where by running the applications on the back end in a service stack and that's where the AI comes in. Um, but if you can try and imagine taking VDI plus maybe a, you know, a couple of your labs and then scaling that up to cater for 25, 30,000 students in a BYOB environment, then that scale and that size becomes problematic. 

That's where I think VDI should really be looked at as a solution to deal with some of the other issues that you may face, uh, specifically around how would you deliver a windows application to a non windows device? It's already got a windows desktop is a very easy way to deliver a windows application to it. And that's using application virtualization, which I'll come onto in a way, do the main use case that I like around VDI and BM, where we find a lot of our customers will do this is, is utilizing it for sandbox in specific environments. If it's a security concert, one of our customers in the UK for instance, uh, they wanted their staff to access the BLE, not the BLE. So the student record system, they wanted them to access here at home, but of course they didn't want any of that data to go outside of their environment.

So the whole thing was put in a VDI environment and the, the, uh, the staff could log in from there, from external file ups, anywhere, of course. So they're the main use cases. And then of course, what about how we can just deliver them much more flexibly. Yet some people will have explored that fee from Microsoft. It comes with inherent technical limitations. Um, so you can typically only virtual out around 50, 60% of your estate. But what it does provide application virtualization is an ability to deliver windows applications to windows devices on demand in a session. Yes. If you can virtualize an application, then we can start looking at solving the problems. We talked about the windows application delivered on demand. I'm the session to the windows device and if we got beyond Ray and start considering technologies like cloud paging from new message where you can actually virtualize 100% of the windows stat, then we can have the utopia and this is where we started many moons ago and this is the initial problem we solved that we could virtualize any windows application hundred percent and then deliver it on demand flexibly to any machine on site. 

We've obviously extended that now beyond for the site and to BYO D. but the key is taking these technologies and let's not focus on the technology. Let's focus on the student and how they use technology. How do they use technology in their lives at the moment? How do they get away with uh, you know, using videos, music, all those kind of things. And of course now, how do they get access to the application resources? Okay. So don't focus on the technology. Let's focus on the students. And they use stars. That's what they use to get access to things. Um, and what we've actually done that software to, we've, we've actually brought all that together and we created a paradigm, we call that paradigm unified application delivery. Yeah. And it's a mechanism to take hold of all the different technologies that you might use and bring it together in one concise and coherent service that we can then deliver to your students. 

Okay. So let's just quickly go through, we've got the application virtualization I spoke about before. That can be app fee from Microsoft. If you've already got that in place, you might want to expand on that and use cloud patient. Can we message where we can take all of the windows applications and virtualize them, deliver them to students own devices? You've got your server delivering. This is where the application server side, not on the endpoint. Yeah. That's powwows wows, VMware, horizon, Citrix, um, et cetera. Uh, we might look at even simple things like native apps if it's locally installed already, how do we launch it? Uh, if it's a download, um, we've got on their web delivery. Lots of applications nowadays are just simple web apps, services you VLE for instance, office three, six, five, but you should consider them as part of your service to your student has applications. 

Um, and, and simply just saying to students, I'll bookmark from us. That's not part of a service. These are applications. This is what happens if the, if the address changes, those kinds of things. Okay. Finally, one of the things in the technology along the top there you'll see is jam. And that is how do we deliver a native math application to a macro X? A jump has become very quickly the de facto standard in that space, in that arena. So we wanted to bring it into the unified application delivery approach we have with apps anyway. And we met this simple so any student can log on on any device and we will deliver the application in the most appropriate way for the use case. Okay. So this will change. If I'm on a lab machine, it's a specific pub machine and we've decided we're going to install it. 

When I click launch, it will launch it from the local executable. If I then decide I want to go to the open access area where it's not locally or physically installed, we might click launch and we virtualize it to them direct for using cloud page and then I move and I go home and at home I've got a Mac and when I launch it on a Mac, of course it's a windows only version. Let's say it's Vizio. Well how do we launch that on a map? But we launch using the service stack and you're not going to have every single one of these pieces of technology but you want to pick and choose which ones are appropriate, how much you need of each one to give the best service that is possible. 

And then underpinning apps anywhere, what we've done is embedded a business intelligence engine, okay. To give you and drive you the information you need out of this to make efficiency gains, cost-savings drive adoption. And actually if you think about this, and I'll come on to some fun examples of how we could actually improve the engagement with the students and get them to get better outcomes and grades. So we cut to a lot of data around the environment, whether it be Y or D, et cetera, the usage of the applications. So if we can do the metering of an application, for instance, we can start working out or concurrency your actual concurrency, not just launches, but concurrent use. Okay. And if we can say, well, we've got a thousand licenses of X, but we work out that we only ever use 500 concurrent licenses. What we want to take might want to tell you that information and make some savings. 

You might even look at it from a delivery perspective itself. We've got a big VDI estate, but we find out that 90% of its use is delivering Firefox to students. Or there's other ways we could deliver Firefox. So we might be able to invite size the VDI estate. Yeah. Maybe only deliver a Vizio to, to map using the VDI estate or whatever is relevant in that environment. However, then if we start, maybe even think about this cross Cola in the data we get from app usage with other sources, it could become really, really interesting. And I like the idea of working out on average, we've got our engineering students, they send you most engineers gyms, they're using, you know, 15 hours plus of our GIS to help back course and get him first class grades, you know, the top grades. But then we might find out that the people who are using maybe only four or five hours of that whole week, well, they're not doing so well. 

Yeah, they're not getting the good grades. It might be an opportunity for us to start engaging with them differently. How are they, are they struggling or they're not understanding? There are things that we could then do with the data we get from app usage to help improve the actual student outcomes. It's not a farfetched thing to suggest. Cool. Fantastic. So what I'd like to do rather than for you to that or even going further with with slides, et cetera and things like that, I like to give you a quick demonstration of what apps anywhere actually looks like. So I simply just click on this for you. This will open up a web browser and we'll be able to see apps anyway.

Okay. So anyway, effectively is a brandable app store. You can, you know, plan to get however you see fit. Call it whatever you want. Potentially on this screen here, you may want some kind of iconic image of, uh, of your institution. Most of the time will single sign on, but I'm not single. Sign it on, I'm just showing you the sign on process. The sign on process includes a validation effectively of my session. Okay. The validation is working out all the different elements of control. You might need to deliver an application to an end user when it validates, just quickly show you, we see it works out from a validation. It knows who I am from my user. That's pretty straight forward. It feels which groups, I mean in ID, it therefore knows all of the applications. I've got access to pop my court, but it also works out what machine I'm on. 

It will work out who owns the machine cause that's going to be important. But whites, it will work out if I'm a laptop or a desktop and it will work out my physical location. And you can see today I'm actually in Spain. You might be thinking it's nice and warm but it's not freezing cold. In winter he was fine. So anyway, I'm offsite and of course I've got a windows 10 Oh S okay. So these are all the applications I can see. These are the applications I can't see. Okay, they're not available to me today. And if I want to find out why, if I click on my information it will tell me. Okay. I can see in this example here it tells me that I'm not allowed to access this application unless I'm in Jamaica. We've already established that in Spain. So I cannot run the application. 

You can provide as much or as little information as you want there. Many of our customers provide details of where they could go to access it. If it's, if it's, if it's just restricted by some hardware or licensing and it's in a specific location. Okay, cool. This is for your app store? I can navigate it by looking at different categories. You can define as many of those categories as once. Um, I can search the applications. Okay, perfect. So if I start searching Microsoft, you'll see I've got office three, six, five. Yeah. These are just, you know, these are web versions of office three, six, five. So if I click on that, it'll take each office three, six, five, single Simon here, PowerPoint. I've been running PowerPoint locally. Yeah. So what it's basically would do if I click launch and I've just going to them to local executable. 

These are, there are all these use cases for these kinds of things. Even even simplistic things like digital downloads. If I want to download Skype for student, we can keep them to download and it may not be obvious, but the massive benefits of you control in that download. If you just ask a hundred students to go and get Skype, half of them might just get an old version of Skype with some malware in it. At least if you control the download, then the copyright version and it's not got any malware, straight simple things that are available to you. Students can also change the layout, the one that won't show that and they can select that favorites as well. Within [inaudible] you can even build dependencies in to the app store as well. This app depends on the app or this plugins only available for Xcel if you've got Excel, et cetera. I will quickly show you, um, one of the applications running cloud paging cause it's often a question that comes up if we virtualize applications to the end points, how does that look? Um, effectively I do not have blender on this machine. Yeah, it's not actually on the machine, but if I click launch, effectively what it does is it will actually pass this to the cloud paving player and that will pop up any second now. 

You will see blended and virtualize in front of your eyes and as it virtualizes it will activate and then it will look. So within a matter of seconds from a clean machines and running an application, it is available to me. But it's virtual. Yeah. The machine can still be clean. There is, he's running in a virtual bubble or you also notice it says running there. That's where we can meet to the usage and get those figures from you. Okay. That's when the money, I'm not going to show you application after application launching, but when it's there, what you will notice and it's also in my start menu and if I remove it, you just remove that. It's gone. This machine is back to the same state as when we started. Yeah. So I can, if you think of that in your labs, your open access, I can deliver any of these apps to any of those devices instantly and it's using the end power, the end point of the devices. 

One thing I wanted to show you. Uh, in the actual presentation we talked about the business intelligence information you get out of it. Just wanted to show you one of the dashboards that we've actually built. Uh, there's lots of dashboards that it ships with and we also provide the training so you can build your own dashboards. We don't need to, you could use your imagination to, to build what you want within the environment and, but this is the typical kind of thing, number of launches. You can filter these by specific applications. You might want to look a BYO D usage and actually for the first time who's consuming our services on what devices. I know we can probably tell for what's connected to the network, but what, who's consuming the services.

Cool. Perfect. That was about 30 minutes. That's bang on time. So, uh, I will open up the floor to any questions that we may have. I think in the, uh, uh, go to webinar section, you can actually ask a question, uh, and then I will answer that question for you. You have to actually ask the question by text within the questions area. Okay. Um, the first one is asking whether this is a hosted solution. Um, it's actually isn't a hosted solution by software. Two. You can host it on your own, uh, service stack. Of course if you're using any, um, hosted environments, any kind of cloud based environments, then of course it will fit and work in those environments as well. Lots of customers are using this, uh, generally as a hybrid in implementation, uh, using Azure. 

Any other questions? Oh, we've got one there. Can we integrate this with the VLE? Uh, yes. So you virtual learning environment or platform, uh, we have some, some mechanisms as of today, uh, where we can actually create a really nice thing. Actually people have been asking about BLS for quite some time. Uh, as it stands today, what we can do is effectively create what we call an app list. So you can actually give this to a lecturer and they can create an app list and it's basically electro say, well, engineering one Oh one, uh, this needs these five applications. Yeah. From the app store. Then they can create basically what is a, as a link. Then you can embed that link into your BLE, whatever BLE that is, you could put it, you can also embed that leak into any other communication with the students. It could be an email, a website, whatever. And as soon as they click on that link, it opens up apps anywhere and only displays the applications as part of engineering one on one. It's a really neat way of doing it, but what we're doing in the future is with the canvas in mind, we're actually building a set of FBI's for integration directly with a VLE and violence. So yeah, that's, that's certainly on the agenda. That should be some time in the next year. 

Okay. What is, what is the difference between API and cloud paging? Okay. Uh, they are both, uh, application virtualization technologies, uh, just to cover that for everyone. The difference between application virtualization and VDI, uh, is when you run an application in VDI, it's running on a server and typically you either display the whole entire desktop or just the application to the end user. But in application virtualization, it's running in a virtual format on the endpoint now without V a [inaudible] purely in a very strict of sandbox environment. And this means you can only virtualize around 50, 60% of your application state. And that's significant. If you've got 400 applications, you can only virtualize 200 of them and you want the benefit of all of them. What cloud Beijing does is it breaks out of the sandbox and allows you to Birch wise applications, uh, uh, to the end point. But without putting it in a sandbox, it's still virtual. It's still controlled, but it's not in that sandbox anymore, which gives you access to all the local system processes. And if you give it access to all of the local system processes, we can get it on all the inherent problems about the and virtualize 100% of the applications. And that's the big difference is the ability to virtualize 100% of the applications. 

Okay. Time for one more question. How much does it cost? I'll say every single time. Um, so that, that's also going to depend on a number of different things. We, we like to consult with you, we know to sit down with you and understand a what have you got today. Yeah. Which parts of those, uh, tools do you already have. Okay. And then we're going to start looking at then what do we need? Do we need some cloud page? And it's very likely that we're going to need something like cloud pager. If you've got no mechanism that you want to deliver windows applications to a Mac, if you haven't got BMR Citrix. And do we want to look at something like parallel? It's a cost effective solution. Yeah. So we're going to have to sit down with you. We're going to have to work out what it is that you're trying to achieve. 

Um, and then basically it scales based on your size. So it's a very difficult question to answer, but you know, with a session with either myself or one of the team, you know, it'll be pretty straightforward. We'll be able to get into that detail with you. And that kind of leads us on to, uh, what is next. Um, if anybody wants, uh, to talk about your, your own individual environment, uh, I open it up. Uh, I'm the co founder of software too, but I'm passionate about this and I love talking about this and, and understanding people's environments. Please contact me directly. That would be fantastic. Uh, alternatively, there's all sorts of resources on the website there. This session has been recorded. Uh, this session will be emailed out to you all who have registered. Uh, if you want to share that with your colleagues, please feel free to do so. 

And then if you want a session of costumers, but a fantastic, I really appreciate, we've got quite a lot of people join today and actually being attentive all the way through, which is fantastic and good to see. So I really appreciate you. Thanks for the time. I saw we couldn't answer everybody's question. Uh, but, uh, we will get round to be able to, to doing that. If you feel, feel free to just email me. So, yeah. Thank you ever so much for joining and we look forward to speaking to you all in the future. Thank you. Cheers.