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Four ways a well-known public university leverages VMware Horizon so students can study from anywhere 

A respected university in the northeast prioritizes equipping its students with practical, real-life experiences to prepare them for successful careers after graduation. The faculty members at this institution are highly committed to empowering both professors and students to teach and learn from anywhere. To achieve this objective, the college of business opted to implement VMware Horizon

In spring 2019, the college’s IT infrastructure manager noticed many students studying on campus late at night because their study materials were only accessible in the campus building. This is when the IT manager had a vision that no student would have to physically be on campus to study, and that faculty should offer their resources remotely for students to study anywhere. With that goal in mind, he realized VMware Horizon could be leveraged as accessibility technology to help students access materials outside of campus. As another benefit, this type of remote accessibility could help prepare students for life after graduation, when many might join a remote or hybrid workforce that would require them to continue using similar technologies. 

In March 2020 when COVID started and students had to switch to remote learning, the business college’s goal became making available the same high-quality level of education that until then had been provided in person. VMware technology made this possible. The pandemic opened the doors for the university’s students to use VMware technology to study anywhere. Course content was made available online, so students received the same education as if they were in a classroom. 

The university leverages VMware’s end-user computing products, VMware Horizon and VMware Workspace ONE, to deploy edge devices efficiently and effectively. It first used VMware Horizon on premises. However, a scaling issue arose, because the fluctuating numbers of users could range from 200 one day to only 50 the next. IT admins needed the flexibility and agility to scale out or in as needed. Another problem was too much time spent balancing the load of managing infrastructure and designing storage and network architecture. Learning how to efficiently manage technology took time away from ensuring study materials were available for students. The solution was hybrid cloud, where the predictable workloads were on premises, and the burstable workloads were in the cloud. Burstable workloads were placed on Horizon Cloud on Microsoft Azure, all managed through the SaaS-based Horizon Control Plane. The results realized were game changing.  

Let’s look at the four ways the college benefits from using VMware Horizon. 

1. Consistency  

Students and faculty both liked the ability to do their work anywhere in a consistent environment across devices and locations. Because VMware Horizon provided a consistent virtual desktop infrastructure, it did not matter which types of personal laptops were used, whether a 10-year-old Dell, Mac, or Chromebook. With VMware Horizon, all students have the same access experience. Students feel like their laptops are giving them access to their own personal labs. When they create a desktop shortcut or task bar menu, these features will persist across all virtual machines and their virtual desktop no matter which one they log into.  

2. Cost-effective solution 

A big benefit of utilizing VMware Horizon is that it is cost effective. It lowers the total cost of ownership because customers only pay as they go. Specifically, Azure virtual desktop capabilities, such as multi-session, add value with VMware Horizon Cloud on Azure. This feature provides efficient scaling for many students on a smaller pool of virtual machines. As a result, the university saved money because students did not require their own virtual machine.  

3. Customizable experience 

The university’s deployment of VMware Horizon is customized. For example, students can pre-populate class packages of desktops and applications. Traditional labs would require 15 to 20 minutes of class time to go over how to install the lab applications students need. With VMware Horizon, that environment is already set up with apps ready to go. For class exams, students use secure browsers that redirect to the VMware Horizon environment. VMware Horizon logs students into a kiosk mode and deploys tests to students via automation, which saves time. 

4. Adaptability for the future  

VMware Horizon’s technology allows for students and professors to evolve and adapt. At this university, that means maintaining a high level of education for students anywhere they log on. Students can attend virtual labs and collaborate with each other while IT maintains security. In the future, as people start to go to classes in person, students will still connect to a lab on their virtual desktop online. VMware Horizon provides this service for students to quickly deploy and manage their devices. The university’s priority is to provide a good experience for students to set them up for the real world after they graduate, and VMware Horizon does just that.  

“I’ve used other products in the past and it didn’t quite give us the same automation as VMware does. So that’s why we chose VMware.”  

— IT infrastructure manager, of a prominent northeast college of business

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