University of Sydney moves to virtual desktop

Proliferation of consumer devices prompts move

The popularity of consumer devices combined with the launch of four learning hubs has caused the University of Sydney to deploy desktop virtualisation software across its campuses.

Manager of the university's virtual desktop project, Richard O'Conner, spoke to Computerworld Australia about the rollout, saying that the launch of four learning hubs next year was one catalyst for the project.

"The virtual desktop is significant because it connects these learning hubs and brings together the concept of a learning network," O'Conner said.

"At the moment we don't deliver the service to multiple devices, but we see that changing in the future as students bring things like iPads into the frame."

The popularity of mobile devices and tablets were two other reasons behind the rollout, with O'Conner saying that BYO technology is prevalent in the education sector.

"Our next generation of students are arriving here and expect to have a wide variety of technology resources easily accessible," O'Conner said. "Trying to satisfy that demand is probably one of our greatest challenges."

Sydney University's move comes at the same time as Kingston University in the UK has rolled out desktop virtualisation.

With 50,000 students and 7000 staff working and studying at the university, O'Conner said choosing a vendor with a scalable product was critical, and chose to partner with Citrix as a result.

"As of semester one this year, over 7000 lectures have been recorded and we have received over half a million download requests," he said. "We've seen a steady increase in video use, which was another reason we were attracted to Citrix."

After delivering a successful virtual desktop pilot last year, O'Conner rolled out XenDesktop across the university only weeks ago.

"Three weeks ago we actually launched our virtual desktop services to four key locations across three different campuses," he said. "We've just gone past 4500 students who now own a virtual desktop."

The university came under fire earlier this year after its systems administrator was attacked in website hack.

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