Complete flexibility with Microsoft cloud solutions – UCISA 2012

With so much change in the world of Higher Education, UCISA 2012 seems to have come around even more quickly than usual this year.  Microsoft are a Platinum sponsor again and we will be sponsoring the formal dinner on 15th February.  In addition, you can also find us during the first two days of UCISA, in the main exhibition hall on stand no. 22. Cloud Computing

One of the unavoidable challenges facing everyone in the sector regardless of size, is the need to save money.  Microsoft address this in a number of ways and we’re fortunate in that our strategy enables a truly flexible approach.  One way of reducing costs is by moving certain aspects of your IT into the cloud.  The reality is that cloud computing is still a technology which in certain areas, Universities are wary of. 

· Student e-mail is a well-trodden path, whereas staff e-mail in the cloud is by no means as well progressed.

· Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is far more acceptable and popular than Platform as a Service (PaaS). 

Microsoft have a cloud strategy which allows complete flexibility in terms of which parts of your IT (and therefore data) you place where.  You could have:

· An on premise solution

· A private cloud solution (provided within a University or perhaps shared between Universities or hosted via a   Microsoft Partner)

· A Private cloud solution (think Live@Edu, Office 365 or Windows Azure)

· A hybrid model covering any combination of those above. 

The reality is that all institutions will have some form of hybrid model.  The benefit of Microsoft’s hybrid model is that we use the same products across each of these environments, providing compatibility and management that is in our humble view, unsurpassed.  Come and talk to us about how this could work for your own Institution.

In addition to cloud based strategies which can reduce costs, there are specific Microsoft products which are very hot topics within the sector at present.  One of these is Microsft Lync

lyncLync provides a number of things such as Instant Messaging, Presence, OnLine Meetings (video and voice) across multiple locations and also Voice, as a replacement for traditional PBX switches.  The savings are in the region of hundreds of thousands of pounds per institution, with savings reaching seven figures for some of the larger institutions.  Add to this the significant productivity and flexibility increases and Lync makes a very compelling case indeed.  We will be presenting alongside a customer during the break-out sessions, so come along and hear more about this from one of your Sector colleagues on the day.

Over the past year, IT departments have increasingly had to cater for the fast growing “bring your own technology” or “consumerisation of IT” movement.  Support for multiple devices, entirely different form factors, running various operating systems now need to be incorporated into the organisation.  Clearly IT can drive this movement or be dragged along by it.  Microsoft’s strategy is clear in this area and we’d be happy to talk to you some more about it on the stand. One of the key areas of our strategy can be seen in the forthcoming release of System Centre 2012.  This will allow the management of iPads for example.  Increasing use of the browser to access applications also opens up access to many Microsoft applications to non PC devices. Basically anything that runs Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox or Chrome.

Finally, we hope to have made some announcements as a company by the time UCISA is in full motion which will be of interest to anyone interested in the evolution of cloud computing.  We are becoming more and more open as an organisation and have some exciting announcements just around the corner.  We are also expect to have some early versions of Windows 8 tablets on the stand so do drop by and see us.

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