Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology identified a need for a more fluid and dynamic approach to desktop services. Each faculty required a different set of software applications, but due to technology limitations, each computer could only be configured with one set of applications at a time. With the reality of class timetable changes and many students studying under multiple faculties, the existing technology solution was a constant source of frustration. Moving to a Windows 7 platform, combined with Active Directory and Application Virtualization (App-V), allowed Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology to provide a highly flexible, scalable solution, while reducing the workload of the ICT department. Thanks to Active Directory, which identifies the student's faculty upon login, and the new virtualized system, students can access the required applications from any machine on campus.Situation
Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) is one of New Zealand's largest tertiary institutions, educating approximately 30,000 students per year. Located in Christchurch, CPIT has two campuses and five faculties. CPIT is the largest polytechnic in the South Island and the fourth largest of 23 in New Zealand.
With inflexible and outdated technology systems, and an unstable, unreliable vendor, CPIT was looking to mitigate potential business risk and provide its students with a more effective and agile learning environment.
The legacy system required the CPIT's ICT department to create images, a collection of software applications at times reaching 80GB, to deploy as packages on computers throughout campus. Each faculty required a different image, and students were limited to using computing facilities configured specifically for the faculty delivering the course.. This was further complicated where students study spanned multiple faculties. Creating images was a time consuming process on a yearly cycle that required large administration and technical overheads.
“It was getting ridiculous. We would install the Commerce faculty image in a lab, but any spare capacity could not be used by any other faculty because their applications were not available,” says Mark Marshall, Director – ICT Division at CPIT.
“We were unable to amend an image once it was created and found the system inflexible for what we needed to provide our students. There was also an unreliability associated with the environment caused by having so many applications having to co-exist.”
“This system also meant that we had to cut off software requests in July for the following academic year, which was both frustrating and inflexible”.
As the polytechnic was running a Novell system using aging ZenWorks technologies, a new integrated system that was more reliable, flexible and easy to use was required. As important, was to engage with a vendor with a clear roadmap and excellent support systems.Solution
CPIT evaluated the Microsoft platform, and made a commitment to move beyond simple product selection and enter into a strategic partnership with Microsoft.
“This decision has been beneficial at every level – the engagement and assistance from Microsoft has helped build a great partnership. Bringing them into to our planning processes and truly engaging has meant we have achieved a huge amount very quickly.”
“We do need to remain open to other alternatives but our commitment is clear, the answer is a Microsoft solution unless something else delivers clearly greater value to the Institution”.
The decision was made to implement Microsoft Active Directory, Application Virtualization (App-V), Systems Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), Windows 7 and Office 2010 to combat process issues.
CPIT worked closely with both Microsoft Consulting Services and Computer Concepts Limited during implementation. The decision to switch software providers and move from a Novell environment was made in May 2010, and the new solution was up and running by early January 2011.
“Computer Concepts Limited was the only partner we could find with any real experience within this type of environment, and engagement from both their team and Microsoft Consulting Services was excellent,” says Mark.
App-V and SCCM allows CPIT to virtually install almost all faculty applications on approximately 2,500 campus computers. Active Directory then steps in when a student logs in to the system – recognizing them, and as a result the programs required, and making them available
App-V and SCCM deliver to a Windows 7 platform, where all students now have access to the latest Office suite of products.
“Windows 7 underpins the entire software implementation and supports App-V at a more integrated level. It was natural to develop the new solution on the latest platform, rather than an older operating system.”
Implementation was completed by 5 January 2011, and the Polytechnic realized tangible benefits by late February.Benefits
The primary benefits recognized by CPIT include:
Flexibility and agility through virtualization – students can access applications as and when required
Software reliability due to an integrated Microsoft solution
Reduction in administration time
Better cost management and measurability
More efficient and higher performing infrastructure
Shortened development time – no need to produce annual images, each application can be tested and packaged individually.
All machines on campus are now configured so students can access any application they require, regardless of their physical location. This is especially beneficial for students studying across multiple faculties.
“We no longer need to have a yearly design cycle with our images, if an application needs to be packaged and deployed we can do so with ease – we don’t need to rework an 80GB image,” says Mark.
“We have also seen a large reduction in administration and software development time and costs. The ease of use has allowed us to better measure our time and cost – clearly showing where spend is occurring and allowing us to reduce this further as required.”
“There has been a marked improvement in efficiency within the team and we have more faith in our solution due to the strong integration properties. We made the initial decision to implement a Microsoft solution and we are yet to find a platform that performs at a higher standard – reinforcing our support for Microsoft.”
CPIT was affected by the February 22 Canterbury Earthquake, and the new software enabled the organization to better cope with the destruction around them.
“We had more than 500 students working out of Lincoln University, all of who required relevant software applications. Post-earthquake, we physically relocated machines and reconnected them to our main network. It took only one day to set up and configure over 100 machines at Lincoln and the ability to virtualize our systems played a huge part in being able to do this.”
“This new system hasn’t just improved what we do, it has completely changed the way we deliver and even think about desktop services. For us this is revolutionary, not evolutionary and for the technical team who love being leading edge, it is very exciting,” says Mark.
CPIT currently enjoys a fully integrated, reliable software solution that fits into the plan to deliver all services on a Microsoft-centric framework. Plans to implement further Microsoft technology, such as Microsoft System Center Service Manager and Operations Manager (SCSM and SCOM), SharePoint, Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (Med-V) and Forefront Identity Manager (FIM), are in the process of being realized. Microsoft Virtualization
Microsoft virtualization is an end-to-end strategy that can profoundly affect nearly every aspect of the IT infrastructure management lifecycle. It can drive greater efficiencies, flexibility, and cost effectiveness throughout your organization.
From accelerating application deployments; to ensuring systems, applications, and data are always available; to taking the hassle out of rebuilding and shutting down servers and desktops for testing and development; to reducing risk, slashing costs, and improving the agility of your entire environment—virtualization has the power to transform your infrastructure, from the data center to the desktop.
For more information about Microsoft virtualization solutions, go to: www.microsoft.com/virtualization. For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to: http://www.microsoft.com/
For more information about Computer Concepts Limited products and services, call or visit the website at: www.concepts.co.nz
For more information about Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology products and services, call or visit the website at: www.cpit.ac.nzThis case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.