Kingston University is a public-funded higher education establishment located in Kingston-upon-Thames, South West London. Established in 1992, it has five facilities operating from four campuses and offers an extensive range of courses to both UK and overseas students. The university pioneered e-learning and is renowned for quality teaching and research excellence. Over the last 10 years, student numbers have increased from 11,000 to more than 25,000.
Planning for the future
Four years ago, Kingston University announced ambitious plans to virtualize its entire desktop estate, which included 7,000 PCs and 1,000 laptops running Microsoft Windows XP for staff and student use across the four campuses and several satellite offices. The UK education sector had never experienced a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) project on this scale.
“Strategically, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and independent-location working limited the days of the managed desktop environment,” stated Roberto Volo, head of infrastructure, Kingston University Information Services. “We wanted to break the mold by having workstations available anywhere - making any space a teaching environment provided it had connectivity. The logical solution was to impose a virtualization layer across applications, gradually migrate internal staff to thin clients and then allow efficient access to students via their chosen device. Our aim was to create a virtualized ‘university without walls’.”
The university’s IT team spent approximately two years designing and conducting several proofs-of-concept to identify the most appropriate software for the VDI. “If we’d chosen Citrix or migrated to VMware vSphere 5, the project would have quickly ground to a halt due to their high Total Cost of Ownership from software licensing,” comments Volo. “The most cost-effective software combination involved Microsoft and Quest Software. Moreover, the functionality of Microsoft Hyper-V has improved considerably and it configures more easily than VMware. We’ll be using it for all new deployments.”
“HP won the hardware deal as it offered the best fully-integrated partnership presentation. From day one, we could see that HP and Microsoft were going to own and underwrite the project. They understood what we were trying to do and we were confident they would deliver.” stated Volo.
Creating a university without walls
The HP solution comprised of numerous HP BladeSystem c7000 enclosures containing approximately 30 HP ProLiant WS460c graphics server blades and 17 HP BL460c server blades. This architecture provides a virtualized platform for Microsoft Hyper-V and Microsoft Remote Desktop Session Host with Microsoft RemoteFX virtual machines. A cluster of 30 virtualized servers generates 300 virtual machines, creating a server estate exceeding 750 devices across two data centers. This easily scalable environment allows the university’s IT team to add servers to satisfy future demand.
• Enhances the student learning experience, increasing satisfaction and protecting revenue streams
• Reinforces the university’s commitment to learning, teaching and research, safeguarding its reputation
• Changes how the university operates, maximizing the use of physical space
• Provides value-added services regardless of location, fulfilling the vision of a ‘university without walls’
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