“How do you leverage the fact that almost every one of our students owns technology that would be acceptable to use in working with software if they could get easy access to it?” Suess asked.
Some UMD software installed on campus computers couldn’t be shared with students off-campus, because the products weren’t legally allowed to be installed on student or faculty computers, said Michael Carlin, assistant vice president for infrastructure and support at UMD.
“By providing a virtual desktop solution … we can extend the boundaries out beyond the campus” and get around these restrictions, Carlin said.
Centralizing the university’s software and making it more accessible for IT staffers in one location also will free up time for long-term IT projects, rather than day-to-day fixes that require a visit to a computer lab or classroom, said Erica Hilgeman, Dell’s marketing manager for desktop virtualization.
“Rather than being down in the weeds with support tasks, this really allows the campuses to make sure they are utilizing the software that students need,” Hilgeman said. At another college that virtualized its computing, an IT manager was able to redeploy four of the department’s six IT workers after virtualization took hold, she added.
Making software programs securely available to students in their dorm rooms in the middle of the night, Hilgeman said, also could save UMD campuses the expense of building new facilities.
“A lot of those schools have computer labs set up for a specific class, but when students can access programs from their laptop instead, schools won’t have to build a new building or computer lab or classroom,” Hilgeman said.
Dell’s acquisition of KACE allows for easy monitoring of software usage, which can help school IT personnel manage applications within a cloud-based environment. That means campus IT staff can know how many licenses of each program are being used, so they can plan accordingly.
Other higher-ed campuses that have launched institution-wide virtualized computing programs include the University of Tennessee (UT) at Knoxville and Freed-Hardeman University (FHU) in Henderson, Tenn.
Using Desktone’s Desktop Cloud, FHU students and faculty members will be able to use campus technology resources from their iPads, MacBooks, and Windows PCs. At UT, more than 37,000 students and educators were given access to 181 virtualized programs.