Our story has 3 chapters, probably eerily similar to those supporting technology in higher education.

In 2009, the University of South Florida had a problem: students needed access to applications required for their courses.  The university owned licenses for the software, but students needed to either come onto campus to access the software in a computer lab, or obtain a personal copy.  The software was often difficult for the students to install and configure, and in many cases licensing prevented the software from being installed on computers not owned by the university.  Public and teaching computing labs had limited hours of operations and seating, making it difficult to accommodate all students. In many cases, students would be waiting for a seat in an open use lab, while carrying a laptop in their backpack; they just needed access to their applications. Even if a lab was available, there was no guarantee that all the specialized software needed for a particular course would be present in every lab. USF found that a combination of XenApp for application access, and PVS for managing consistent lab images solved their problem. USF Apps was born.

In 2012, The University of Florida had a similar problem.  Knowing of the success at USF, folks from UF IT met with USF IT.  Armed with this input and an extensive evaluation of vendor solutions, UF chose XenApp to deliver their app virtualization environment.  They leveraged NetScaler for authentication, load balancing, and high availability to optimize the experience for students. UF Apps was born.

In 2014, The University of Central Florida noted the problems being solved by Citrix at both UF and USF, and embarked on solving their own. Building on the lessons learned from these institutions, they rolled out an extensive marketing campaign, engaging Citrix Marketing Services to create an introductory video and other collateral to be sure students adopted and consumed this new campus offering. UCF Apps was born.

Each chapter in this story is wrought with gotchas, aha moments, and other lessons learned that are shared between our institutions and Citrix to continually improve our offerings.  Of course, our story doesn’t end there – each institution will share next steps in enhancing their existing environment and addressing new use cases.

We hope our Synergy 2015 breakout session, SYN243: XenDesktop and XenApp: gotchas and unexpected lessons learned from three universities,  will help you plan and implement application and desktop virtualization at your institution, ideally with a few less bumps. Stop by and check out our session.  See you there!

JP Peters has more than 16 years of experience in higher education IT. In his current role he leads his college IT organization as well as directs the college’s marketing and communication efforts. JP also leads a variety of cost-cutting and innovative IT initiatives across the institution, including UCF Apps (http://apps.ucf.edu). JP presented at EDUCAUSE on both collaboration and application virtualization. Follow him on Twitter.

Citrix invited the author of this blog post to present at Citrix Synergy 2015 and to participate in a related contest.  The author received an entry into the contest for submitting this Blog.

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