College saves £500,000 with virtual desktop project

By Stuart Sumner
27 Feb 2012 View Comments
Students and teacher working with computer

Hopwood Hall College has made estimated cost savings of £500,000 with a virtual desktop deployment and managed print services solution from IT services firm Ricoh.

The college, which employs 650 staff and serves 4,000 students, identified a need to replace its antiquated IT estate, including 10 year-old desktops, which in some cases took up to 30 minutes to process student log-ins.

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Simon Evans, director of technology and innovation at the college, drew up a plan to provide fast and simple access to all the information, applications and communication services that students needed to support their studies.

Evans began with a pilot project in the summer of 2009 to implement 200 thin-client PCs in the college's two refurbished learning resource centres.

Ricoh was then chosen to provide support to expand the pilot to the 1,000 PCs that the college eventually deployed.

The project involved rolling out additional PCs to all departments across the college's two campus sites and implementing a thin-client virtualisation solution across the entire infrastructure.

In addition, it also set up a new datacentre with 16 blade servers, with a further five dedicated to a storage area network.

The college has also deployed a Ricoh managed print service (MPS). It has replaced a fleet of printers around the college that were handled independently by each department.

The MPS comprises 30 Ricoh multifunction products and an Equitrac print management application. It enables the college to monitor print use accurately, since students access printers using their security passes.

The college has seen a dramatic reduction in paper use and energy consumption.

"The college has made a massive investment in IT over the last three years, totally renewing its IT infrastructure by spending more than £1m on new student PCs, servers and switches," explained John Spindler, deputy principal at Hopwood Hall College.

"Students really appreciate the new investment because it gives them access to all of their files and applications 24/7, 365 days a year from wherever they can access broadband," he added.

Evans pointed to cost savings to students in software licence fees as a further benefit.

"We have many students who need expensive, business-class software applications for their courses.

"Not only do they avoid the cost of having to buy the software themselves, the virtualisation solution also means they can access it at anytime and from anywhere whether they use one of the college PCs, their own PC or laptop, a tablet or even a smartphone."

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