RMIT is a multi-sector university of technology, design, and enterprise in Melbourne, Australia, with more than 87,000 students and 11,000 staff globally. Teaching, research and engagement are central to delivering real-world impact and in preparing RMIT students for life and work.

To keep pace with the expectations of modern students, to ensure continuity in the face of changing software-access demands, and to maintain network reliability and security, RMIT invested in a state-of-the-art virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) platform to create an uninterrupted learning outcome for students.

The challenge — limited access to learning software and resources beyond campus.

RMIT’s existing VDI platform and its on-premise hosting model created some significant challenges when it came to shifting network demand from 1,000 students a day to upwards of 30,000 students per day during peak periods, in addition to rising demand from students for on and off-campus access.

For example, software that was only available on premise — primarily located at the city campus — required regular packaging, software deployment, and updates, which created resourcing and operational pressures that could have been avoided.

The solution: enabling flexible learning while ensuring network security

Through a partnership with Citrix, RMIT built a highly scalable and centralised platform, hosted on Amazon Web Service (AWS), that leveraged Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops. As part of the transition to a new VDI platform, the network infrastructure was further consolidated and transitioned to a consumption-based license model to better manage costs, using Citrix ADC.

Over the past year, key benefits of the new VDI platform have included:

  • Reduced risk, cost, and management time — With the assistance of the Citrix VDI platform, named RMIT ‘myDesktop,’ applications and data are hosted on the cloud, which resulted in IT departments no longer needing to deploy upgrades to multiple devices and manage endpoint security across a host of staff and student devices. Instead, the now centralised platform has enabled faster deployment of services.
  • Enabling flexible learning for students — Students now can use personal devices like a laptop or iPad to access software applications, even for high-end, complex applications such as CAD for architecture students. This has enabled students to gain access to RMIT learning resources anywhere and at any time and has provided one of the most seamless, open, and flexible learning experiences possible. As a result, traditional computer labs are being transformed into more efficient co-learning spaces for students.

“Present day students have a preference to own their own devices and schedules, meaning they can learn at anytime from anywhere,” said Sinan Erbay, Director of Technology at RMIT. “Before we implemented Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, we had a smaller user base limited to a couple of thousand users per day. This ramp-up of service has meant those numbers over the last year have grown significantly to the point where we’re seeing approximately 30,000 students using that service on a daily basis.”

Looking Ahead: Continuing the Move to Cloud

With further migration planned for 2019, RMIT has already been able to scale-up and host more than 700 applications through the new hosting platform, including those that require significant graphic computing power. The ability to run applications and workflows across on premise and cloud has improved efficiency, reduced operating costs and, importantly, enabled a seamless learning experience for RMIT students, no matter where they choose to log in.