Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec) promotes the latest technology to ensure students’ readiness for the work world. In addition, the institute wanted to extend the life of its desktop hardware, so it adopted the Windows® 7 operating system. With Windows 7, Wintec staff and students can be more productive, thanks to an improved user experience. Plus, Wintec will delay retiring at least 200 computers, saving upwards of U.S.$225,000.
Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec), one of New Zealand’s largest polytechnic institutes, aims to build a stronger community through education, research, and career development. Wintec maintains seven campuses throughout the Waikato region and offers courses in everything from agriculture and carpentry to journalism and graphic design.
Three years ago, Wintec made a strategic decision to become one of the country’s leaders in technology education. Embra¬cing that role, the institute has made it a regular practice to be an early adopter of various technologies, including those from Microsoft. “We recognized that we need to provide our students with technological advantages so that our graduates are work-ready and easily employed,” says Ramon Scurrah, IT Director for Wintec.
In addition to exposing students to the latest tools, Wintec wanted to improve its infrastructure effectiveness. The institute has 250 older computers still running the Windows® XP operating system because they weren’t powerful enough to run the Windows Vista® operating system. “We thought we’d see if we could extend the life of our current desktop hardware so that we could save money in this tough economic climate,” says Gary Templeton, Technical Services Team Manager for Wintec.
The institute also sought a way to help students protect their information. Wintec already was taking advantage of BitLocker® Drive Encryption in Windows Vista to safeguard data on its computers that ran that operating system. However, it needed a solution for USB devices and other portable storage tools. “Students often bring documents from home, work on them on campus, and then save them onto a USB drive to take home again,” says Scurrah. “We wanted to help protect our students’ work.”Solution
In June 2009, Wintec launched a pilot deployment of the Windows 7 operating system with the help of Microsoft® Services consultants, who assisted with the project’s early planning stages. The institute started with a group of 20 computers in its IT department and gradually rolled out the new system to computers in its various computer labs and common areas. “Our students were excited to see the new technology in action and were happy to conduct benchmark tests,” says Templeton. Wintec plans to steadily add features, such as BitLocker To Go™, which helps protect information on portable devices through data encryption.
||With Windows 7, we’re doing our part for the environment and can potentially save thousands on energy costs because our computers will consume less energy with the enhanced power-saving features.
IT Director, Waikato Institute of Technology
As of October 2009, Wintec has approximately 150 computers running Windows 7, and it expects to upgrade all 2,000 computers in the coming months. The institute experienced smooth deployments on its pilot computers and found no application compatibility barriers. Wintec has used existing hardware for the upgrades and has seen performance improvements, even with older computers. “We’ve proven that just about anything that runs on Windows Vista can easily run on Windows 7, both in terms of hardware and software applications,” says Scurrah.
The institute is adopting Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 to roll out new images in the future. Wintec also will upgrade several server computers to the Windows Server® 2008 R2 operating system to take advantage of the additional functionality that it provides when working in conjunction with Windows 7. For instance, the institute wants to use the Windows 7 DirectAccess feature to enhance the productivity of mobile students and staff by connecting them seamlessly and more securely to the Wintec network.
Wintec also intends to upgrade from Microsoft SoftGrid® 4.2 virtualization technology to Microsoft Application Virtualization 4.5, which is part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) for Software Assurance. “We want our students to be able to go to any computer lab and get the applications that they need, whether they’re studying nursing, engineering, or science, and virtualization will help make our software applications consistently available in all our locations,” explains Templeton.Benefits
With its upgrade to Windows 7, Wintec is staying at the forefront of technology while conserving costs and preparing its students for employment. “Our students will leave Wintec with experience on the latest technology, giving them an advantage over other job applicants,” says Scurrah. “And that technology is delivering on our high expectations—we’re pleased we made the choice to upgrade to Windows 7.”Improved User Experience
Wintec users are enthusiastic about Windows 7 because it provides a better experience than previous operating systems. “We’ve seen improved speed, so students and staff can be more productive,” says Scurrah. “Features such as the improved windows management and jump lists really help save time.” Significant Cost Savings
Its use of Windows 7 will help the institute conserve costs. “We’re able to delay replacing more than 200 computers, which will save us upwards of [U.S.]$225,000 next year,” says Templeton. “Like many others in higher education, we’re under considerable economic pressure right now. Adopting Windows 7 is a fiscally smart move because, with it, we can extend the life of our hardware.”
Additionally, Wintec expects to see a reduction in its power consumption, thanks to the power-saving capabilities of Windows 7. “With Windows 7, we’re doing our part for the environment and can potentially save thousands on energy costs because our computers will consume less energy with the enhanced power-saving features,” says Scurrah.Enhanced Security and Remote Access
Wintec expects to improve its security capabilities and its ability to offer streamlined mobility with Windows 7. “I already see a difference in how quickly I can undock my computer and get reconnected to the network,” says Templeton. “We’re looking forward to adding DirectAccess and BitLocker To Go to provide even greater levels of access and security.”