Cloud-based app virtualization helps students ‘win’ at college and at life

Creighton University students using Nutanix’s Xi Frame to access courses from any device
By: | Issue: March/April 2020 | Case Study
March 2, 2020

As the computer client support specialist at Creighton University in Omaha, Robby Daniels has one overarching goal.

“I want my students to win,” he says. “If I have winning students, everyone is happy.”

Quantifying that goal can be difficult, Daniels says, but student surveys, professor feedback and graduate opportunities all factor into the equation. And the common denominator in what’s become a successful calculation is Xi Frame.

Consistent access and experience for all

With Xi Frame, a Desktop as a Service (DaaS) solution, apps are installed on a cloud-based virtual machine that’s centrally controlled and managed by Creighton University’s IT department. When students log in, they can see an app’s user interface in a web browser that is accessible from any device—without having to install anything on a personal computer or tablet.

“Every student … has the same platform, the same user experience, the same tool set—no matter what kind of hardware they’re using.”

“Every student, whether they are an on-campus or distance learner, has the same platform, the same user experience, the same tool set—no matter what kind of hardware they’re using,” Daniels says. “Xi Frame supports Creighton University’s mission by increasing reach to students who can’t get to campus. And there’s less time spent by IT staff troubleshooting issues, because the platform is consistent and robust.”

Cost savings with easy administration

After Xi Frame was installed at the Creighton Heider College of Business in the fall of 2017, university leaders quickly realized the benefits of the cloud-based solution.

Xi Frame was then implemented at two more of the University’s nine schools and colleges after traditional virtual desktop infrastructure proved too complex and expensive for the University’s needs. The expansion is expected to continue.

With Xi Frame, the IT department can easily administer app licenses to students who require them, often for just one semester. Staff can then remove those licenses and give them to other students who need them.

In addition, the DaaS platform had led to cost savings at Creighton, a Jesuit Catholic university with about 9,000 students.

Classroom space reclaimed

“We are gaining classroom space by eliminating hardware, and that saves money because we’re not adding more buildings to accommodate rising enrollment,” Daniels says. “Information remains secure, and we can scale up or down as needed.”

Professors no longer spend time troubleshooting software issues in class, since Xi Frame provides a consistent platform that eliminates device compatibility issues. The nature of the solution, along with support from Xi Frame staff, helps Daniels meet his goal.

“Nutanix leaders believe that their customers need to win, and we are definitely winning with our genuine partnership,” Daniels says. “They are always there to help because they believe in students winning, too.”

Desktop as a Service brings simplicity, speed and flexibility to higher ed

Solving common ‘bring your own device’ challenges and licensing issues

Q&A with Carsten Puls, Senior Director, Xi Frame, Nutanix

What complications do higher ed institutions face in transforming their digital initiatives to improve learning in a BYOD environment?
Students want to work from the device they’re most comfortable with or that is most accessible at a particular time or place. But having a policy to bring your own device presents many challenges, such as installing, supporting and managing apps on so many different laptops, tablets and smartphones. Some courses require apps that don’t run on all devices.

Licensing also becomes an issue. Every semester, a new class requires a set of apps, and at the end of the semester, app licenses need to be reprovisioned to start the cycle all over again for the next term.

How can higher ed leaders centralize IT and apps through desktop virtualization to achieve this transformation?
With Desktop as a Service (DaaS) and app virtualization, apps can be installed in a virtual machine that is hosted in the cloud or the university’s own data center. The app’s user interface is streamed into a browser that students can access on any device.

“DaaS allows you to install something once and basically replicate it n number of times. That dramatically simplifies IT work because staff is only supporting one configuration.”

It’s very easy for IT staff to grant access to students who need the app and then remove access at the end of a course, because they haven’t actually installed anything on the student devices.

How do institutions benefit from DaaS?
The key benefits are simplicity, speed and flexibility. DaaS allows you to install something once and basically replicate it N number of times. That dramatically simplifies IT work because staff is only supporting one configuration.

Also, the DaaS provider handles all the overhead involved in managing the control plane, which connects users, creates and terminates virtual machines, and integrates with other systems. IT managers don’t have to install and build their own control plane, which is the traditional method when using virtual desktop infrastructure.

End users have the flexibility to use apps on any device, and they save time installing and configuring apps—or having to deal with IT staff installing and configuring apps on their personal devices.

What makes Xi Frame different from other DaaS vendor products?
Our services span multiple public clouds and private clouds or data centers—all with the same management interface. Xi Frame easily integrates with multiple identity management systems and cloud storage providers, making it easy to fit into existing environments. With a few clicks, you can be up and running within minutes, rather than months.

Our platform meets the most stringent security requirements demanded by enterprises, universities and government organizations. Xi Frame is bringing Windows apps into the web app world.

For more information, please visit nutanix.com


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