College and University technology leaders across the country, indeed across the globe, have demonstrated great agility and adaptability in the face of moving to remote education and work. For many, the effort can be described as “turning on a dime.” Some institutions have made this transition by benefiting from institutional strategies that focused on mobility.
Those strategies meant that most faculty and staff had mobile devices of some fashion and that most institutional enterprise applications were available through secured connections to cloud-based services or through VPN to local networks. These schools often had embraced collaborative tools for teaching and for administrative work — like Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Even in this case, though, some very significant challenges remained and are still being addressed by schools.
Those challenges might include providing staff access to the institution’s key database — like Ellucian Colleague® or Ellucian Banner®, often running on-premises behind appropriate security. Typically this is addressed those challenges might be addressed through VPN connectivity, which is okay when the access is through institutionally-managed devices, but when the access comes through any BYOD device a person has at home the risks can be significant.
Another example is student labs. Many institutions rely heavily on access to student labs so students have access to specialized software required by their academic discipline. That software is typically not installed on an individual student’s personal device, for issues of licensing, systems capabilities, and support. So, what happens when the labs are no longer physically accessible?
Here is where many institutions are turning to a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). This solution has been available for many years — but the infrastructural overhead and cost were significant. So, for many schools VDI was aspirational. Now, it is nearly a necessity.
Microsoft’s Azure platform provides for rapid and cost-effective rollout of Windows Virtual Desktops (WVD). These WVDs can be customized and configured to support secure connections for staff accessing enterprise applications, and at the same times support the configuration of multiple different environments to support student computer labs. And, many other options in between.
Ferrilli has worked with many of our clients to support this transition over the past few weeks and we are here to help you too! Watch for updates to our Webinar series, where Rob Ferrilli and some of our terrific Security, Cloud and Infrastructure team will walk you through considerations for this move and discuss the attractive pricing available from Microsoft for higher education institutions and other nonprofits.
And, check out these helpful resources:
What is Windows Virtual Desktop? – Azure
Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server – Azure Windows Virtual Machines
Amazon AppStream 2.0 | run 3D design & engineering apps without workstations
Manage classroom labs in Azure Lab Services
And, as you consider pricing options:
Azure Cloud solutions for non-profits
We are here for you. Reach out if we can help at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888.864.3282.