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UT Knoxville Pilots Virtualized Desktops

In an effort to provide on-demand computing services to its campus community, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville is phasing in a program called Apps@UT, which will provide virtual desktops to students, faculty, and staff.

Built using Citrix XenDesktop running on Cisco's Unified Computing System and NetApp's Unified Storage Architecture, the Apps@UT program has already begun rolling out as a pilot, with virtualized systems being provided for users of the lab called The Commons @ John C. Hodges Library. The deployment there will allow more than 16,000 lab users to access virtual Windows desktops, according to information released by Citrix. (The Commons currently offers 181 physical Windows-based computers and 43 Mac workstations.)

In addition to providing computing services to students, the experiment with virtual desktops is expected to help reduce the strain on IT resources and cut down somewhat on energy use. As part of the deployment, Citrix NetScaler and Branch Repeater are being tapped to provide centralized management of systems and software, including patches, software refreshes, and maintenance. And as machines age, some of them will be phased out and replaced with low-power thin clients.

According to information released by Citrix, following the pilot in the Commons, virtualized desktops will be introduced in all of the labs operated by UT Knoxville's Office of Information Technology, then expanded further to the entire campus community, supporting both university-owned and user-owned devices.

In total, some 37,000 students, faculty, and staff members will have access to the system.

According to Scott Studham, UT Knoxville's CIO, the effort was driven largely by students. "The students on UT Knoxville's Technology Advisory Board were the visionaries driving the Apps@UT program, believing it will give all university students the high degree of flexibility and availability they have come to expect from technology today," he said in a statement released Wednesday.

Citrix partner LPS Integration is providing the university with support for the rollout.

The 560-acre University of Tennessee at Knoxville serves 21,300 undergraduates and 6,215 graduate students and offers more than 300 degree programs. The university employs about 9,800 faculty and staff members, including 1,300 instructional faculty.

About the Author

Executive Producer David Nagel heads up the editorial department for 1105 Media's education publications — which include two daily sites, a variety of newsletters and two monthly digital magazines covering technology in both K-12 and higher education.

A 21-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192 or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education). A selection of David Nagel's articles can be found on this site.


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