Provisioning virtual, cloud-based desktops for educational users

Being an educator today, in a world where you’re competing not only with brick-and-mortar schools but also with flashy, specialized online programming demands an “above-and-beyond” mindset. Given that the anywhere/anytime BYOD access available in the best workplaces is now being demanded by the next generation of students, IT managers at all educational institutions have a new checklist of efficiencies and potential services that have become table stakes. Check off all that apply:

I deliver critical business applications in an evolving, lean environment
I can run training labs on the road, at events, in a cost-effective manner
I can quickly and cost-effectively add locations
I can virtually provide new users with all resources and applications they need in minutes instead of hours or days
As my infrastructure runs securely and smoothly in the cloud, I am not limited by any long virtual desktop refresh cycles
My costs are low, I make clear decisions quickly, and I meet all security and compliance regulations

As part of efforts to tick all boxes on their list, many IT decision-makers in the education sector are looking at a virtual desktop infrastructure, or VDI, to manage student users. A VDI is essentially a virtualized version of the desktop interface. The difference between it and a traditional deployment model is clear:

  • In a traditional model, the desktop OS is installed on individual endpoint devices. From these devices (desktop computers, etc.), users do everything they need to do, from opening applications to navigating the local network to browsing the internet.
  • In a VDI deployment, the devices (desktops) “born” in the centralized data centre are, for all intents and purposes, virtual entities. Users access their virtual desktop from an endpoint device as they would access a ”real” desktop. The virtual desktop is “app like,” appearing as an open window that can be minimized, expanded, etc.

VDI’s big draw is that it can help IT lessen (often dramatically) the time and effort it needs to dedicate to managing a group of endpoint devices. But VDI in education offers IT other potential benefits, including:

  • Security – End user data from virtual machines is centrally stored, and policies can be issued and tightly enforced from a central interface.
  • Environment – Schools that have a BYOD policy can benefit from VDI, which makes OS (Windows, Mac, etc.) a non-factor — all users accessing the same virtual desktop regardless of what device(s) they are using.
  • Remote – Simply put, VDI is blind to location. A user logs into their virtual desktop, wherever they are, and access the business applications and information they need, as if they were in a physical school.

On July 19th, join ITWC CIO and Chief Content Officer Jim Love and special guests Diego Magalhaes, Senior Solutions Architect, Public-Sector team, AWS, and Marty Sullivan, Cloud Engineer, Cornell University, will unpack the provisioning of virtual, cloud-based desktops for educational users.

In this session, Love and Magalhaes will delve into such topics as:

  • The evolution from legacy desktop machines to virtual desktop
  • The challenges that cloud-based VDI can address – security, affordability, scalability and more
  • Comparing traditional computer labs to cloud-based VDI workspaces

Love and Magalhaes will look at Amazon WorkSpaces for Education — a cloud-based VDI solution that gives students and instructors consistent access to teaching and learning software, and IT departments the ability to offer the services today’s students demand, at a cost that won’t break even tight education budgets.

Love and Magalhaes and Sullivan will examine how Cornell University, one of the premier colleges in the US, reinvented how it delivers courses using cloud, and specifically how they went about implementing Amazon WorkSpaces.

Register to attend “Virtual, cloud-based desktops for education – ready for frosh week.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Glenn Weir
Glenn Weir
Content writer at IT World Canada. Book lover. Futurist. Sports nut. Once and future author. Would-be intellect. Irish-born, Canadian-raised.

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