King’s College London (King’s), has today announced the completion of a three-year project with ICT services provider, Getronics, which has seen a revamp to its IT infrastructure to support a new mobile working strategy. The IT project, named ‘Access King’s Global Desktop’, involved upgrading the university’s networking capabilities and migrating to a private cloud platform delivered over the JANET network — the latter of which is seen as a first within the higher education sector. This move has enabled staff and students with an unparalleled user experience when it comes to mobile working. Staff and students are now able to access core applications and documents, from many devices, at any of King’s five London campuses. Users are supported by the highest levels of performance, resiliency and availability.
With many staff and students requiring the ability to work in several different locations in a day, King’s realised that a strategic move to enable increased mobility and flexibility across its central London campuses and beyond was necessary. Furthermore, with the proliferation of personal devices — from smartphones and netbooks to tablets – the university recognised an increasing appetite for users to be able to access core IT systems from a range of devices, not just desktop computers.
Lynne Tucker, Chief Technology Officer at King’s said: “With over 25,000 people to support, we recognised a need to support mobility in a much more streamlined way. Some of our staff hotdesk and students may work from five or six different places in one day. We wanted to make sure they could access their critical applications and files and have the same user experience, no matter where they were, from a range of devices.”
To do this the university enlisted the help of Getronics following a tender process with the European Journal. The solution entailed extending the King’s network to Getronics (using the JANET network) and outsourcing the management and hosting of the majority of King’s applications. The core applications, for its students, were all virtualised as part of the private cloud migration. And with resiliency and availability critical to the university, hosting is replicated across two data centres with automatic fail-over to ensure 100% uptime. The JANET network was chosen to connect to Getronics’ data centres through a VPN connection with King’s, due to the resiliency assurances that come with using a world leading academic network. Furthermore, Tucker realised King’s would benefit with this arrangement by being able to remain independent of location.
The ‘Access King’s Global Desktop’ saw a significant change in the university’s approach to technology, with a move from in-house management and ownership of IT, to outsourcing services. King’s saw this shift in its IT model central to achieving its mobile ambition and reaching greater levels of resiliency and agility.
Tucker explains: “Moving from a ‘build’ to ‘buy’ model with Getronics, has meant we can now deploy new applications with greater speed and get new services out to thousands of students as soon as they’re available. Moving to Getronics’ private cloud platform also means we can better manage capacity with resource dynamically allocated to applications as and when demand dictates.”
Students have been bringing their own equipment onto campuses for many years now and King’s are keen to encourage this BYOD trend. However, realising that some students are reluctant to bring their larger devices into London, the university is currently looking to extend accessibility to devices through its loans programme which will soon include iPads as well as laptops. Additional advancements are also being made to the usability of King’s mobile printing which is now enabled through student and staff devices.
“Mark Cook, Managing Director at Getronics, said: “We’re really pleased to have supported King’s College London through its ‘Access King’s Global Desktop’ project. We’ve helped the university move from a CAPEX to OPEX model using the cloud and have updated its infrastructure to enable a very successful BYOD scheme which has seen enhanced productivity from mobile users. It is exciting to see how the project is evolving, and we look forward to continuing to work with King’s in the future”.
Pervasive wireless access and the ability to BYOD is another example of the flexibility offered by the King’s Global Desktop as managed by Getronics using Oracle technology, which offers its students access from multiple user devices.