Delivering a better student experience with VMware

Posted on 06/05/2021 by osanders

At a time when remote learning is a key part of the university experience, the role of secure, reliable technology has never been more crucial. Explore how Edinburgh Napier university is using VMware Anywhere Workspace solutions to deliver industry-leading levels of student satisfaction, leading to both happy students, and collaborative institutions.

Reliable IT infrastructure is the number 1 priority  

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, university IT teams are under more pressure than ever to deliver a seamless experience. Students must be able to access everything they require to complete their education remotely, and a 9-5 model simply does not cut it anymore. University IT infrastructures need to be strengthened to meet the needs and expectations of students with families, those working part-time jobs, and those in different time zones.

Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland has over 19,500 students from over 140 different countries, supported by 1,500 staff. With such a variety of needs to support, Edinburgh Napier’s IT team needed to ensure its infrastructure was up to the challenge.

Delivering seamless and secure access to remote learning environments

The modern student owns multiple devices to support their studies. In order to ensure that students were able to access university services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on laptops, tablets, and mobiles, Edinburgh Napier enlisted VMware Horizon. By providing virtual desktops and applications through a single virtual platform, students were able to seamlessly access any application through any device, at any time. This provided students with the same desktop experience as they would on campus remotely, making the transition to full-time remote learning as efficient and straightforward as possible.

Deploying VMware NSX Data Center, Edinburgh Napier was also able to promote better resilience across its campuses. The added level of security that is built intrinsically into NSX Data Center provided peace of mind, and the university IT team was able to guarantee that any new infrastructure was fully compliant with its requirements. This, in turn helped the university manage the IT team’s workload. Less time was spent testing and evaluating each new server, and the team were able to focus instead on creating innovative new services designed to further enhance the student experience. It also meant that the IT team can provide very specific bespoke solutions for a variety of individual research projects, and to other departments across the university, in a quicker time frame.

Additionally, seamless collaborations with other institutions is a vital part of the university process. NSX Data Center was fundamental in helping the university enable micro-segmentation to its infrastructure to bolster security. By applying individual security policies and controls, Edinburgh Napier was able to better protect individual workloads. These capabilities enabled the university to partner and create new services for other educational institutions to host their own learning services and applications, while keeping segments of the network separate from those used at Edinburgh Napier.

Using VMware technology, Edinburgh Napier University was able to securely host additional dual learning environments for both Edinburgh College and University of St Andrews, while significantly hardening their security posture and resistance to attacks.

How has Edinburgh Napier University managed its IT systems during the pandemic?

A solid foundation of VMware technologies meant that Edinburgh Napier was able to manage the transition to remote learning more easily than many. VMware Horizon provided the flexibility necessary for university IT teams to quickly spin-up resources as and when they needed them throughout the pandemic, in order to meet the increasing number of students learning remotely.

The future of remote learning

Due to government guidelines around social distancing and lockdown measures, this academic year will involve more blended learning for students at Edinburgh Napier. This means the majority of students will have both on campus and remote learning timetabled for their courses.

The focus of Edinburgh Napier over the coming months will be to continue enabling a seamless learning environment for both students and its academic employees. This involves ensuring that all necessary learning materials are available on demand by students. Additionally, it will continue to assist lecturers with any difficulties delivering courses online, ensuring the experience is seamless and immersive so that students are able to contribute remotely just as they would on-campus.

For more information about how Edinburgh Napier University implemented VMware solutions, read the full case study here.  

Category: Success Stories

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