From The Expert Feature Article
October 01, 2013

Virtual Desktops Ace Higher Ed Test

Virtual Bridges, which offers desktop as a service (DaaS) and VDI, says its technology is just the ticket for device-laden college kids – and the schools that have to support them.

In fact, the company claims that each student today comes equipped with nearly seven devices, everything from laptops to tablets to smartphones and more. This brings new meaning to the term BYOD!

Meanwhile some 85 percent of students bring a laptop and there is a huge need for these machines to access campus networks securely, and gain full use of college computing resources.

That is why more and more colleges and universities are using either DaaS or VDI from companies like Virtual Bridges.

Image via Shutterstock

To prove its case, Virtual Bridges pointed to customer wins such as the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM) at Brown University, Birmingham Metro College, Chuo University Japan, A. Capatini and Università Bocconi.

The virtualization is all about supporting student and staffer’s BYOD and promoting mobile learning.

The idea behind DaaS is to serve up a standard set of applications, along with the operating environment and storage and make this all available to most any device.

And if DaaS comes as a managed service, there are even fewer things IT has to worry about when supporting BYOD.

“With new end users every semester, each with disparate devices and different access requirements, the education market is one of the most challenging for IT professionals to support,” said Sam Cece, CEO at Virtual Bridges. “Our desktop-as-a-service private cloud removes the complexity and supports BYOD demands from teachers and students by offering a secure and user friendly experience. We continue to see very strong traction in the education market with no end in sight.”

The idea of trying to support nearly seven devices per student isn’t just daunting, it’s crazy. But if the campus services are merely virtual, they can be secured, managed, and protected from malware and student hacking.

One MSP is having success pitching this notion. U.K.-based MSP Vissensa sells thin clients and virtual desktops to an array of markets, including higher education.

“The explosion of BYOD accelerated our search to find a solution that provides a simple, unified interface to manage desktop, laptop, thin client and mobile users,” said John Yarham, CTO at Vissensa. “Virtual Bridges has been a perfect fit for our clients, offering scalability, a concurrent licensing model, comprehensive branch capabilities and full offline capability which is extremely unique. The solution has been particularly beneficial in the education market where student intake changes each year and users are often traveling between campus locations, using multiple devices.”

DaaS + BYOD = Profits

The 451 Research Group sees a bright DaaS future, saying that interest is “at a fever pitch.”

Gartner, meanwhile, sees a nearly $3 billion market emerging.

Service provider NaviSite (News - Alert), Inc. recently surveyed over 700 IT pros to find out how they are handling BYOD and whether Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) could be of any help.

BYOD is considered by 80 percent of those surveyed as just the normal way of doing business these days. However, only 45 percent of this same group has a BYOD policy. More to NaviSite’s point, little more than half are looking at DaaS to let BYOD users access data over mobile.

The biggest BYOD bugaboo is security. Many mobile device management tools encrypt data and keep personal and business data separate. And a DaaS keeps the data and apps in the cloud, and therefore can be made quite secure, especially in the area of data leakage.

According to the NaviSite survey, “68 percent of respondents said they were very concerned or extremely concerned when thinking about securing enterprise data on employee mobile devices. Despite this extreme concern of security, only 18 percent of respondents considered BYOD a motivator for implementing DaaS; however, 42 percent said employee demand is driving the need,” NaviSite said.

Edited by Alisen Downey