With approximately 433,500 students, the Apollo Group is a leader in adult education. The organization strives to promote higher learning, in part through providing students with the latest technology. The organization is implementing the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system, starting with a pilot project of 300 computers. As a result, the Apollo Group expects to reduce power consumption, simplify IT management, and improve the user experience.
Since its founding in 1973, the Apollo Group has established itself as a leading provider of higher-education programs for working adults by serving the needs of its large student population. With its subsidiaries, such as the University of Phoenix and Meritus University, the Apollo Group served approximately 433,500 students in 2009.
The Information Technology (IT) department at the Apollo Group strives to provide an IT infrastructure that supports student learning, teacher instruction, and an outstanding educational experience. In doing so, it manages 35,000 client computers running the Windows XP operating system. Accounting for its corporate headquarters and all of its school campuses, the IT department manages more than 100 operating system images.
||With Windows 7, we know that we have a reliable operating system and one that is simpler to manage.
Technical Director for Client Computing Technology, Apollo Group
To provide an excellent learning environment, which includes a large number of online courses and degree programs, the Apollo Group constantly looks for new ways to give students and teachers access to modern technologies. As such, the organization wanted to upgrade the operating system it uses, which it has relied on for nearly 14 years. “There is a demand for modern operating systems as students start bringing their own devices to the classroom. And teachers who use computers at home want the latest in operating systems and the same computing experience at school as they have at home,” says Claudiu Budurlean, Technical Director for Client Computing Technology at the Apollo Group.
At the same time that the organization wants to provide students and teachers with leading-edge technology, it must ensure that it can do so both cost-effectively and efficiently. In addition, introducing new technology must be done with a careful eye toward “green” IT, and the technology must align with corporate initiatives for sustainability, including reduced energy consumption. Solution
To address its need for a modern operating system, the Apollo Group decided to migrate to the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system. It started with an Application Compatibility Factory proof-of-concept in October 2009 with the help of Microsoft Gold Certified Partner ITC Infotech.
Because the organization has an extensive portfolio of older line-of-business applications, the Apollo Group took an extensive assessment of its hardware and software assets to determine its readiness for the operating system. Working with ITC Infotech, the Apollo Group took advantage of the Windows 7 Application Compatibility Factory to identify potential compatibility issues. The organization determined that a majority of its hardware fleet was ready for the upgrade. It also identified which client applications were incompatible and remediated them all.
ITC Infotech developed a single Windows 7 image for the Apollo Group using Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 and installed the image manually on computers for its pilot deployment. It also configured Group Policy settings for power management with the operating system, ensuring that computers, monitors, and other peripherals are shut down or enter a low power state when not in use.
The Apollo Group completed its deployment of the operating system to 300 computers in June 2010. Following an internal marketing campaign announcing the new operating system to employees, the Apollo Group will continue with a gradual rollout first to existing, compatible hardware, followed by new computers during its scheduled hardware refresh.
When the operating system is fully deployed, students, teachers, and employees at the Apollo Group will take advantage of the Aero desktop experience. The organization also looks forward to enhancements in the user interface, such as the Windows Taskbar and the ability to pin applications to the Taskbar. Benefits
Though the Apollo Group is still in the early phase of its deployment of Windows 7, the organization expects to reduce its energy consumption, simplify IT management, and improve the user experience for students, teachers, and employees.
Reduces Power Consumption
By using Windows 7 and configuring Group Policy settings to better manage power for devices that are not in use, the organization expects to reduce its energy consumption by 20 to 30 percent annually. In addition, it can use much of its existing hardware with the operating system, helping to extend the life of client computers by one to two years. “The power efficiency of Windows 7 is attractive to us and will help us meet our corporate green initiatives,” explains Budurlean. “We expect to see a significant reduction in power consumption.”
Improves Efficiency of IT Management
The Apollo Group looks forward to simplifying IT management by using Windows 7 and by consolidating more than 100 operating system images down to a single image. “With Windows 7, we know that we have a reliable operating system and one that is simpler to manage,” says Budurlean. “We anticipate that we will require fewer financial resources when managing the environment and will also be able to redirect IT resources to more strategic tasks.” Specifically, the Apollo Group anticipates saving approximately 3,200 employee hours annually.
Improves User Experience
By using Windows 7, the Apollo Group is delivering the technology that students and teachers expect from a leading educational organization. In addition, employees at the Apollo Group have already started singing the praises of Windows 7. “Employees are very receptive to Windows 7 and have noted that it is faster and easier to use,” says Budurlean. “The user interface helps eliminate clutter on the desktop, and by using the Windows Taskbar, users will gain tremendous efficiency when using the operating system. Windows 7 enables them to work the way they want, and we’re happy to deliver that to them.”
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