SYDNEY – 21 January 2020 – Microsoft is delighted to report the success of the first phase of Edith Cowan University’s (ECU) digital transformation that has seen the migration of almost 400 workloads to Microsoft Azure, enhancing organisational agility and halving IT operational costs.
For the last few years the University has relied on a managed service provider for much of its IT infrastructure – but it was an arrangement that lacked the flexibility or agility that ECU required according to Vito Forte, director of digital and campus services, and CIO.
To digitally transform ECU, rein in costs and support the university’s strategy to improve the student experience, ECU has transitioned 96 per cent of its workloads (about 50:50 Windows and Linux based) to Azure, to support anytime, anywhere learning.
According to Forte; “We’ve migrated nearly 400 workloads into this environment, and those 400 workloads include all the major applications, from financial, payroll, student management and identity, which are critical to the university. We also have migrated a number of workloads to an on-prem Azure Stack environment, because of specific requirements around latency and device proximity.”
“We’ve also got our analytics and our data warehouses in Azure. There’s a whole host of other subsidiary applications that hang around those main ones. And most of those are not Microsoft based. They are Linux and Oracle based. So it removes the perception that says that you can only really run Microsoft stuff in Azure, which isn’t actually true.”
Microsoft solutions are nevertheless widely deployed and Office 365 is used campus-wide. ECU is now making Teams available as well as Teams Telephony, with over 1000 users already migrated, to encourage streamlined communications and collaboration.
ECU has also invested in a number of Surface Hub 2, Surface Pros and Surface Go devices to learn how these will add value to university professionals and be used to enhance teaching and learning.
Next on Forte’s roadmap is a refresh of ECU’s documentation records management, making greater use of Office 365 and SharePoint. He is also investigating how Azure artificial intelligence services, such as Chatbots might be used to support staff and students. A pilot is currently in its second phase with plans to introduce the technology once verified to enhance the experience for our students.
According to Lee Hickin, National Technology Officer, Microsoft Australia; “Higher education is undergoing a period of massive change in Australia and across the world. Competition continues to rise, student expectations are higher than ever, and there is an unstinting demand for efficiency and effectiveness.
“Australian universities are taking a very strategic approach, ensuring they can optimise their students’ experience – and also pave the way for the sorts of lifelong learning initiatives that people will need for sustained success. The information systems and data needed to support that strategy need to be highly responsive, coherent and able to scale rapidly to meet demand. These are the foundations now in place at ECU.”
Azure is already changing the way that ECU uses technology to provide computer labs for students as they tackle assignments, exams and projects. Instead of having to buy and manage a host of computers for computer labs which might sit largely idle outside of exam time, ECU can simply scale up the Azure Lab to meet demand.
A proof of concept using Azure Labs to host a cyber security penetration testing module was rolled out with students accessing the module through their usual university sign on, from their own device when and where it suited them. Students logged in via the Azure Labs portal and used their Office 365 credentials to connect to the appropriate Lab.
The security credentials and track record of Azure were a key consideration in the university’s decision to select a Microsoft solution according to Forte.
He added that as a result of the transformation; “We’re seeing greater than 60 per cent reduction in operating costs” as well as significant IT productivity improvements. ”What we have now is fundamentally the same number of people with twice the amount of capability. So the level of effort is fundamentally halved.”
About Edith Cowan University
Established in 1991, ECU has grown rapidly into a quality university with excellent student satisfaction, recognised for its teaching quality and internationally recognised research. Edith Cowan University is also a leader in the cyber security research and education space. It has more than 30,000 students from a diverse range of backgrounds and operates three campuses in Western Australia.
Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.
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