Virtual mobility solution reduces costs, improves IT services for large public university

At the University of South Florida, students are provided with anytime, anywhere access to applications they need through Citrix

The University of South Florida is one of the largest public universities in the nation, supporting more than 47,000 students across three separately accredited institutions. Its heritage of innovation means making the right technology available for students, professors and administrators, no matter where they are or when they need it. “Originally we provided thousands of desktops in computer labs across the university to give students access to the computing resources they needed for their classes,” says Craig Woolley, assistant vice president of IT support services for the university.

“A few years ago, we decided to implement a mobility strategy that would better support the needs of today’s students: on- and off-campus access and the ability to use their own devices anytime, anywhere.” For its campus app store initiative, USF Application Gateway, the university is using Citrix solutions built for education to provide on-demand access to applications from anywhere, on any device. Beyond providing 24/7 remote and on-campus access to the student population, the university also uses Citrix’s audit and compliance team to securely access protected applications. “Citrix is the leader in offering accessibility from any device, and that was a key selling point for us,” says Jason Hair, assistant director of IT support services at the university.

“With Citrix, we can deliver services and capabilities we either couldn’t do at all before, or were very costly and time consuming to provide,” says Woolley. “It’s helping students become more successful because they have access to high-end resources such as computer-aided design (CAD) applications anywhere, anytime.” The university’s SMARTLab wouldn’t be possible without Citrix, says Hair. The on-campus lab includes more than 350 machines that switch automatically between different configurations during certain parts of the day, depending on class and instructor needs. “Citrix also enables us to provide students or faculty with specialneeds access to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant software on demand,” says Hair.

By moving to Citrix, the university not only met its goal of delivering greater accessibility to all its students on and off campus, but it also substantially decreased costs. By reducing the number of open-use labs from eight to one and cutting the number of machines in those labs from 393 to 167, the university is saving nearly $300,000 each year on equipment and IT staffing costs. “This end-to-end solution makes us far more efficient in maintaining our on-campus infrastructure,” says Woolley. The university can now virtually manage the 1,600 desktops in the computer labs remaining on campus. “By moving to the Citrix solution, we cut our number of trouble tickets by more than 80 percent while delivering a more consistent experience for students and faculty,” says Hair. Before the USF Application Gateway project was deployed, 90 percent of trouble tickets were for software configuration issues, with only 10 percent caused by wear-and-tear hardware issues, according to Hair. Now, software configuration issues represent only 10 percent of trouble tickets. Better yet, they can be solved immediately using Citrix, with no on-site technical support required. “Now that we have our Citrix solution in place, I predict that usage will continue growing from this point on,” says Woolley.

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