University Center at Ponca City Uses FlexApp to Deliver Applications on Demand to Diverse Student Body
Basic PC support requirements were taking up almost all the IT staff time at the University Center at Ponca City, an Oklahoma-based collaborative education facility where students can take classes offered by its four partner colleges. Students can pursue approximately 30 associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, or pursue a doctorate program and several professional certifications. However, University Center is not a university, it is a coordinating organization, and has a very small staff without full-time IT support. To stretch its resources and reduce the time needed for support, the organization virtualized its desktops and introduced application layering with Liquidware FlexApp, resulting in a more reliable infrastructure that takes much less effort to maintain.
The vast majority of the IT staff's time was spent on upgrades and maintenance of its workstations. Enterprise software required by each of its partners was supported as well as multiple applications -- including many rarely used applications and configurations to support a wide range of programs. While some instructors offered on-site classes, the vast majority were offered through videoconference links to the partner institution’s campus. This approach means it is essential to keep networks running and optimized. To keep things manageable, the organization essentially kept its student computers locked down by not allowing students to store files or customize their desktops with different settings and apps. Still, fulfilling basic support requirements didn’t leave the IT staff enough time to make improvements to optimize the students' user experience.
The organization leveraged the services of Liquidware Acceler8 partner, InterWorks, which helped it move to a virtual environment. In order to lower the maintenance time for applications and desktop images, InterWorks recommended Liquidware FlexApp, an advanced application layering solution that allows admins to keep applications separate from desktop images and only mount and deliver them upon request from the end user.
Following InterWorks’ recommendations, the organization created a standard desktop image that includes the basic applications that all students need, and leverages FlexApp to instantly deliver the apps each individual student requires based on his or her courses and permissions. The introduction of FlexApp has saved University Center at Ponca City IT staff as much as 20 hours per scheduled update or maintenance session -- a significant savings for the part-time IT staff. At the same time, user experience quality has improved as the virtual machines are always up to date.
The organization further plans to tap into the more advanced features of Liquidware ProfileUnity and Stratusphere UX as they move forward, but the savings and efficiencies that the organization has already achieved, has bolstered its enthusiasm for Liquidware's solutions.