A smart business school for distance learning accessible from any device

ICN students from four campuses and around the world continue studies and communicate visually via a secure and scalable Citrix solution

ICN enters the world of distance learning with Citrix

ICN Business School is an elite business school in France which offers high level training and has the coveted triple accreditation from AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA which places it in the top 1% of business schools in the world to hold this triple ‘crown’. Associated with the University of Lorraine, the school issues diplomas for its Bachelor in Management Degree program (Bac+), and for the Master in Management ‘Grande Ecole’ and MSc (Bac+5) Degree program, as well as a wide range of continued education for future managers, experienced managers and executives. Founded in 1905 in Nancy, the school now has four campuses: two in France (Nancy and Paris La Défense) and two in Germany (Nuremberg and Berlin). It also has a site dedicated to continuing education in Shanghai. Today, a total of 3,000 students attend the school.

As a top international school, the availability of computer rooms for all its students has been a concern since 2018. For example, the Nancy campus only has space for 70 students. According to Stéphane Blanc, ICN System and Network Infrastructure Manager, and his colleagues, “We decided to do things differently by removing the computer rooms and setting up an infrastructure so that each student can work remotely.” At the same time, a lecturer asked the IT team to find a solution for teaching remotely. An initial installation was created, but it was neither simple to set up and manage, nor to make secure. This was in March 2020, just a few weeks before lockdown when the situation would only be getting worse.

Everything had to be in place for the start of the academic year in September 2020

In the spring, Stéphane Blanc launched a call for tenders with very strict specifications. The installation had to be easy to use on all devices such as PCs, Macs, tablets and even Android or iOS mobile environments. The IT department had to be able to manage it and report on it. Finally, it had to be secure and able to support the load on the network. With the support of the JCD Group, a Citrix Gold partner, the answer was found. It involved two solutions: Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops Advanced and Citrix ADC. The first offers a virtualization solution to deliver applications on any type of device and over any network, while the latter provides application delivery and load balancing, all coupled with proactive security.

“We adopted the Citrix environment because it met all our criteria and the support provided by the partner, particularly in terms of security with Citrix ADC, made it much easier for us to implement,” explains Stéphane Blanc. “In fact, it took only 15 days for the project to be successful.”

Five hundred remote-learning students

The Citrix solution has been operating in the ICN data centers in Nancy for several months, allowing for better control by the school’s IT team. The team is considering a future evolution to the cloud environment. Today, thanks to Citrix technology, courses that rely on software provided by the school are accessible to 500 students, whether they are on campus or at home, in France or around the world via the Internet. The software from the Microsoft Office suite has been virtualized, as well as some Adobe graphics software.          

Now, students with a device running any operating system can access this software via Citrix Workspace. In addition, collaborative communication applications such as Teams and Zoom are delivered via Citrix. Students and teachers are able communicate and interact face-to-face. Some teachers go further setting up subgroups to observe the students’ screen and guide them more easily.

New partnerships and models for virtual learning

Thanks to this new teaching method, ICN, which offers an innovative and original education program in #ArtTechnologyManagement, wants to go even further in the educational field. In Nancy, Artem is a multidisciplinary and inter-university alliance uniting three elite Nancy schools whose aim is to develop a common teaching practice and common projects: the Nancy National School of Art and Design (École Nationale Supérieure d'Art et de Design de Nancy) for art, the ICN Business School for management and the Mines Nancy School of Engineering for technology. If the University of Lorraine, associated with ICN, is already equipped with Citrix solutions, that example will surely be replicated in the other schools in the alliance.

Other software will soon be virtualized and made available via the data centers, such as IBM Cognos Analytics and SPSS Statistics. Citrix supports many different environments while ensuring strong access security and load balancing through the use of its physical Citrix ADC hypervisors. These ensure that network-intensive applications, such as those used for statistics or graphics, run smoothly.

Today, ICN’s IT infrastructure has been sized to accommodate up to 1,000 users with some minor adjustments. In the future, it will be spread over two different sites to secure the installation in the event of a problem and to establish a business recovery plan.

Mature decision making in CSR as well as in IT

ICN is the first business school to have assessed the maturity of its economic, social, societal, and environmental practices via the AFNOR Certification Committed to CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) approach. Since it was founded, ICN has placed great importance on encouraging students to respect themselves, others and the environment, giving each student the benchmarks for informed decision-making. With this in mind, it has implemented a strategic plan for sustainable development (SD) and social responsibility (CSR) that takes into consideration the school’s staff, students, suppliers and various other stakeholders (companies, municipalities, departmental council, regional council, NGOs, etc.). Citrix has also been a CSR registered company since 2019.

Today, thanks to Citrix technology, courses that rely on software provided by the school are accessible to 500 students, whether they are on campus or at home, in France or around the world via the Internet. The software from the Microsoft Office suite has been virtualized, as well as some Adobe graphics software. Now, students with a device running any operating system can access it via the Citrix Workspace agent.
Stéphane Blanc
System and Network Infrastructure Manager
ICN
We adopted the Citrix environment because it met all our criteria and the support provided by the partner, particularly in terms of security with Citrix ADC, made it much easier for us to implement.
Stéphane Blanc
System and Network Infrastructure Manager
ICN

Industry:

Key Benefits:

  • 500 remote-learning students can access courses that rely on software provided by the school
  • Office and graphics suites are now accessible to any PC, Mac, tablet, Android and iOS device
  •  Video conferencing tools work in parallel with Citrix solutions

Citrix products: