Nutanix Provides Pandemic Ready, Scalable Learning Platform at Coleg Gwent

  • Cloud , Infrastructure
  • 28.04.2021 01:45 pm

 Nutanix (NASDAQ: NTNX), a leader in private cloud, hybrid and multicloud computing, has announced that Coleg Gwent, one of Wales’ largest and top performing colleges has decided to proceed with its enterprise cloud solution in a bid to transition from local to virtual desktops, using Citrix as the preferred vendor for virtual desktop software.     

With an objective of moving away from the traditional classroom and adopting a more flexible approach to learning delivery, Coleg Gwent in South Wales soon realised that desktop virtualisation would be the best approach, being both scalable and robust and requiring minimal disruption to implement. The college decided on Nutanix enterprise cloud software, hosting Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops. Not only did this combination meet technical requirements but, as an existing customer of both Nutanix and specialist education partner ET Works, the college was confident that it would deliver on the promises made. 

Having geared up for a switch from local to virtual desktops using Nutanix infrastructure and Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, we were in good shape to deal with the unexpected. Which was just as well, because the unexpected was just around the corner and coping with lockdown was nowhere near as challenging as it might have been,” commented Evan Smith, ICT Infrastructure Manager, Coleg Gwent.

Following the installation of Nutanix enterprise cloud infrastructure in the college data centre and the configuration of the Citrix software to meet its virtual desktop requirements, the first rollout was to around six hundred on-campus Windows laptops. A rollout that proved remarkably successful with extraordinarily little comment from the users involved. 

We had designed the Citrix virtual environment to be as close as possible to a local Windows desktop, and it worked. Once logged on, most of our users simply didn’t know they were on a virtual desktop at all,” explained Evan. 

The Nutanix/Citrix combination also scored when it came to management, with the ability to configure and manage the whole solution from a single console. More than that, the college can continue to scale its end user computing solution to meet the new flexible learning objective and do this almost instantly. A capability that paid dividends when it came to coping with the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown.

Lockdown was a big ask for everyone in education,” said Evan,but we had a number of advantages which made it easier for us to cope.  We were already using Office 365 so that helped, plus we now had a virtual desktop solution in place with the capacity to not only handle thousands more users, but also flexible enough to deliver access to online learning resources to staff and students locked down at home."

The team were already developing a virtual desktop profile for just that purpose, requiring only minor tweaking before it could be distributed. Power users running multiple screens could also be accommodated, simply by giving them remote access to their on-campus desktops to run graphic intensive CAD and modelling apps.

“Coleg Gwent has delivered a blueprint that other educational institutions can follow on to how to cope with planned and unexpected growth in end user computing demand through instant scaling of physical and virtual resources, which is clearly front of mind for many institutions right now” commented Dom Poloniecki, Vice President & General Manager, Sales, at Nutanix, Western Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. “A highly available and resilient Virtual Desktop Infrastructure has enabled Coleg Gwent to rapidly accelerate and scale up a wider deployment of their chosen virtual desktop solution in order to keep staff teaching and students learning through lockdown and beyond.”

Beyond continuing the rollout of virtual desktops on campus, the college is now looking to support wider access to learning resources using students' own devices and custom apps. Smith is also investigating ways of accelerating desktop performance and further scaling the solution to handle the ‘new normal’ of flexible remote learning set to persist in the wake of the Coronavirus crisis.

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