The following case study was originally published by Dell. King’s College London needed best-in-class student computing facilities to match its position as one of the world’s top-20 universities.
Best-in-class IT for top London university
Top-20 global university refreshes its desktop estate and provides students with cutting-edge technology
King’s College London is one of the top universities in the world. Its systems are under constant review to ensure they reflect best-in-class practices and deliver the highest level of service to staff and students, allowing them to excel. “We’re committed to improving the student IT experience,” explains Gareth Wright, Director of IT Services at King’s College London. “Students need the right tools to succeed, so refreshing the student computing rooms was a good place to start.”
This recent project involved renewing the PCs in shared computing areas across eight sites and 64 separate rooms. It encompasses 1,300 devices. The previous desktops had come to the end of their lifecycles and could no longer support the latest applications. Upgrading the operating system meant upgrading the applications, which in turn called for newer, better hardware. Henry Amadife, Senior Project Manager at King’s College London, says: “We were looking for desktops, but they had to fit into our wider strategy of delivering a world-class service.”
King’s undertook a procurement process that included assessing test units. Several vendors responded, but King’s rated the Dell proposal, featuring Dell OptiPlex 9030 Allin-Ones and installed by Dell Deployment Services, highest after seeing that the solution met the university’s criteria most closely.
Managed deployment makes life simpler
The rollout window during the summer holiday was tight. Dell had sight of the deployment plan within the tender and sent its consultants to conduct site visits once the tender was concluded. This gave them the chance to highlight any logistical issues well in advance. Amadife recalls the value of having the BIOS configured for each device and a full list of Media Access Control (MAC) addresses being prepared to enable quick installation. “When it came to deployment, we just plugged them in and hit F12 to start the installation,” he says. Dell also disposed of the university’s old devices, taking care to remove all data from them in accordance with university guidelines.
Students quick to praise
“Gone are the days when you could just send someone a report on the success of a deployment,” says Amadife. “With social media, students were tweeting about the new PCs before we finished deploying them. All of it was good feedback.” Twitter users left comments such as: “Love the new computers at Guy’s and St Thomas’ House. So much faster,” and “Loving the new IT suites – a huge improvement.” Demand was so great that students were asking when more devices would be rolled out, and even enquiring where they could buy them for personal use.
The team was specific about the benefits it wanted to see before the project started. These objectives have been met. Students are achieving better collaboration through Microsoft Lync and gaining access to 1 terabyte of cloud storage with OneDrive for Business. They also now have the latest applications such as Microsoft Office 2013, which includes Microsoft OneNote, at their fingertips. “We had some of these services before, but students didn’t make the most of them,” says Amadife.
Everyone’s a winner
Students are not the only beneficiaries of the new estate. There are now fewer support requests, meaning IT can focus on other areas of its strategy. Moreover, having a central image with standardised versions of key apps like Microsoft Office means that support is much simpler. Even the library team, which is often the first port of call for students wishing to complain about an IT issue, has noticed how much better the new desktop service is.