King's College London has just completed a three-year project to upgrade its IT infrastructure to provide better access for its 25,000 users.
The Access King's Global Desktop will enable all its users – both staff and students – to get access to core applications such as Microsoft Office, email, statistical packages and e-learning tools, with almost any device they choose.
"Previously, users were unable to access any of the core systems using their own laptops so would often spend time flicking between the college onsite infrastructure and their own laptops," Lynne Tucker, chief technology officer, told Computing. "So this was one of the driving forces for the Access King’s Global Desktop project."
The new Java-based system, based on Oracle technology, enables users to access their personal desktop via a web browser, which ensures that Tucker's team don't need to worry about what devices the students and staff prefer to use – a pressing concern when there are more than 25,000 users to support.
A new iPad application from Oracle is being tested and Tucker hopes to make a tablet-tailored version of its desktop available to users in the near future.
The global desktop project also entailed an upgrade to the university’s network, and migrating its servers to a hosted service run by Getronics. The hosting service is connected to the UK's academic network, JANET, and replicated across two data centres to provide resilience and availability.
The move to the hosted service was financially attractive as it has allowed King's to move from financing IT out of its capital investment budget to an on-demand model, Tucker said.
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