BYOD policy gives London university users network access flexibility

A London university has undergone a network infrastructure upgrade to make way for a BYOD policy, offering staff and students more network access flexibility and capabilities.

As the bring your own device (BYOD) trend grows, businesses are not the only organisations taking notice and refurbishing their networks.

King’s College London has revamped its network to support the increasing demand for BYOD among approximately 6,000 employees and nearly 23,500 students from 150 countries. Specifically, the infrastructure upgrade and BYOD policy integration will allow staff and students to use their own devices to access core university applications, including virtual desktop, across King’s five London campuses.

Moving to a private cloud is the first step to BYOD support

To support this kind of access, King's moved to implement a private cloud that could be supported on the academic JANET network, which the university was already using, says Lynne Tucker, CTO at King’s College London.

“Whilst there weren’t any issues with network capacity as we were running on JANET already, we wanted to move to a solution that wasn’t housed onsite and that would provide the agility to enable all users to access data and applications from anywhere in the world,” Tucker says.

So the university bought into a private cloud platform hosted by Getronics, with access delivered over the JANET network. King’s was the first university to negotiate putting a commercially run datacentre on the JANET network.

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The three-year deal with Getronics has the company managing the Global Desktop programme based on Oracle technology, as well as virtualising core applications and replicating them across two datacentres with automatic fail-over.

“As we migrated, Getronics had to ensure it understood our user base and their profiles. They had to create those apps in the virtual environment and then schedule a programme of user migrations into the virtual environment itself,” says Tucker.

But the results mean that students and staff now have full access to all of their core applications and any specialist academic applications relating to the course they are studying from any location across the campuses. These applications include Microsoft Office suite, e-mail, and specialist software applications such as statistical packages, subject-specific applications and e-learning systems.

Previously, users were unable to access core systems using their own laptops, so they would often spend time switching back and forth between the college onsite infrastructure and their laptops. Additionally, with the release of the Oracle iPad Application, students who own iPads may use these as pseudo thin client terminals while on campus.

The university is also looking to extend accessibility to devices through its loans programme, which will soon include iPads as well as laptops. “We now have a laptop loan service available from each of the College libraries. We also intend to offer iPads for loan this academic year with the desktop app installed,” says Tucker.

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