In one week, University of Sydney deployed cloud-based courses from Down Under

Industry: Education solutions |  Solution: Business continuity

University of Sydney

In one week, University of Sydney deploys cloud-based courses from down under

The University of Sydney community is comprised of over 80,000 students and staff who are based across its 22 locations including campuses and teaching hospitals. During the start of semester one in 2019, bushfires, local flooding and the COVID-19 virus caused havoc for the university – so much so, in fact, that 20 percent of the student population was unable to return to campus locations for classes.

80,000
students and staff

22
locations

100+
course-specific apps and SaaS apps

Business challenge

We’ve all heard someone utter the phrase, “It turned my world upside down.” Almost never do we hear someone say that in just seven days, an innovative IT team designed, procured, implemented, tested, and rolled-out a global enterprise solution that set things right again. However, the IT team at the University of Sydney looked to do exactly that in providing remote students with rapid-fire education alternatives.

The University of Sydney is committed to delivering a great student experience; so when 20 percent of the student population was unable to return to campus, the school looked to address the immediate challenge first: to build capabilities for students, followed by providing tools for staff and faculty. The team’s goal was to provide a range of agile tools while avoiding being prescriptive as to how those tools should be used. This would ultimately enable greater innovation. “We wanted to provide a secure, high-quality student experience by supporting the diverse ways in which different individuals consume information,” says Jordan Catling, Associate Director of Client Technology at the University of Sydney.

In implementing this solution, the University of Sydney’s IT team had several goals in mind that could serve the university now and in the future. The first was providing a set of flexible, robust, and scalable tools that are natural to use and highly responsive. Second, the team wanted to provide its user base with great tools that encourage innovation, without being prescriptive in their use. Finally, the team clearly saw the value of establishing and maintaining business partnerships that enable the exchange of innovative ideas.

“With a focus on multidisciplinary research and teaching, the University of Sydney wanted to provide our staff and students with a broad set of tools that enable disciplinary depth as well as breadth,” Jordan summarizes.

The solution

“We’ve been sitting side-by-side with Citrix since we knew we had a complex issue to solve,” says Jordan. By teaming with Citrix, the University of Sydney quickly created an online learning environment for students who were unable to return to campus locations to study.

As longtime partners of Citrix, the university’s IT team deployed an entire digital environment for them that enabled remote access to coursework, apps, and data. Technologists on the ground in China then tested the system to ensure its viability. “The great thing about the Citrix platform is that we built it directly in the cloud,” explains Jordan. “Our implementation took seven days and is entirely scalable.”

The team has provided more than 100 course-specific applications and SaaS apps that students can access regardless of the type of device or location. The student experience is as good as – and sometimes better than – what a student would have when using locally-installed apps on a physical computer.

Many of the statistical, scientific, or technical apps that University of Sydney students use put high computational demands on physical computers. Virtualization with Citrix allows the university to run these intensive apps in the cloud. “A physical computer might take up to two minutes to load one of our statistical programs,” Jordan clarifies. “Running it on the Citrix Cloud management platform, we can see responsiveness in 20 seconds.”

Citrix also helps IT gauge the consistency of the online staff and student experience. Using Citrix Analytics for Performance, IT can monitor performance in remote locations to determine if latency is an issue and adjust to make the user experience even better.

Citrix Content Collaboration capabilities allow students and staff to securely share data. In the past, transmitting massive volumes of data slowed down the system and took up valuable space on servers. Citrix solved that problem.

Citrix makes it easier than ever before to onboard students and faculty. Computers can be configured from a single image in minutes. Then the team can provide an overlay using its cloud-based tools so that users can access other valuable digital tools they may need. Instead of physically installing a subset of hundreds of applications, the Citrix platform enables virtual access to software that staff and students might only occasionally need. What’s more, IT is able to ensure a consistent, familiar and high-quality experience with every interaction.

Results

Quick, easy onboarding of faculty and students

Computers can be configured from a single image in minutes. As a cloud service, the implementation only took seven days and is entirely scalable.

Secure access to apps and data

The IT team can rest easy knowing that data and applications are secure in the new digital environment. Data lives in the data center, not on the students’ devices. And access is strongly controlled and governed by policies set by IT.

Consistently great experience

The student experience is as good as – and sometimes better than – what a student would have when using locally-installed apps on a physical computer. And Citrix Analytics for Performance helps IT monitor performance to make the user experience even better.

A physical computer might take up to two minutes to load one of our statistical programs. Running it on the Citrix Cloud management platform, we can see responsiveness in 20 seconds.

Jordan Catling
Associate Director of Client Technology
University of Sydney

Read the full customer story

About University of Sydney

The University of Sydney community is comprised of over 80,000 students and staff who are based across its 22 locations, including campuses and teaching hospitals. The university prides itself on its strong academics, leadership, values, and – perhaps most importantly – for challenging traditions for more than 160 years. Regularly ranked in the world’s top 50 universities, University of Sydney excels across multiple dimensions and offers the widest range of academic programs of any university in Australia.

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