Oct 14 2013

Virtual Victories: Cloud Computing and VDI Are Solving Problems on Campus

Higher education IT leaders find that new technology offers opportunities for cost savings and better services.

Colleges and universities of all shapes and sizes are realizing that cloud computing offers myriad opportunities to increase efficiencies, close performance gaps and provide cost-effective backup solutions.

Claremont McKenna College and the Virtual Computing Lab at North Carolina State University are simplifying support and reducing costs by using private infrastructure as a service.

Using IaaS to deploy virtual desktop infrastructure is becoming more popular, in part because it gives IT the ability to provide applications and computer resources anytime, on all kinds of devices. Claremont McKenna used part of its data center to deploy a VCL for the W.M. Keck Science Department, a department shared by its two sister colleges, Pitzer College and Scripps College. Students can log in to a web portal and, through a secure connection using Remote Desktop Protocol, spin up a virtual computer running Windows 7.

For more on how institutions are taking advantage of IaaS, read Cloud Control: Universities Put IaaS into Action.

Campuses across the country are realizing the benefits of VDI implementations. Better support (and reduced need for it) is one example, University of North Carolina at Wilmington's Jarrett Piner says. UNCW has rolled out roughly 60 NComputing thin client devices to shared locations inside campus residence halls, all of which can be managed from a single location.

"When we had traditional computers in those locations, we had a tech consultant touching them just about every day. Now, when there's a problem, we can just boot up a new desktop from any location at any time," Piner says.

To learn why VDI might make sense on your own campus, check out Why Virtual Desktops Might Make Sense for Your College.

Keeping It Going

For those that have already taken the virtualization plunge, 4 Tips to Help Colleges Back Up Virtual Machines offers advice for deploying a software solution that makes VM restoration as easy as a Windows PC System Restore. Once users set up data repositories and a backup schedule, the software does the rest.

"We save three to four hours a week by not having to troubleshoot the old environment," Hillsdale College Systems Administrator Jon Voss says.

At EdTech, we realize that virtualization is by no means a simple or inexpensive solution, and we want to ensure our readers have access to up-to-date information they can use to make informed decisions on what's best for their own campuses.