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U Southern California Extends Computing Resources with Remote Desktops

The University of Southern California (USC) has deployed an identity management suite and remote desktop service (RDS) in an effort to extend access to its learning environment and tools while saving money.

USC's Viterbi School of Engineering, with 5,300 students, had a computing lab for students, but it was only open during limited hours and scheduled classes in the lab further restricted access for students, forcing many to license expensive software on their own.

"Rather than spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to extend the lab or build an entirely new one, the university explored innovative technologies that could virtually extend the lab without the purchase of a single new laptop," according to a news release. "After extensive research, the USC team found that the Centrify solution combined with Aqua Connect's RDS product and USC's Windows PowerShell script could extend access management via Windows Active Directory across the university's entire heterogeneous computing environment."

"After significant research and many meetings with different companies, we selected Centrify and Aqua Connect for their group policy management, flexibility, manageability, licensing model and their willingness to work with us to address our challenges," said Michael Goay, executive director of IT for Viterbi Business Affairs, in a prepared statement. "We estimated the cost of building out a new lab to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and when we estimated the total cost of the Centrify and Aqua Connect solutions, there was no comparison. USC views the Centrify project as an investment in our students, but it has offered significant savings as well. The value of enabling BYOD in one classroom alone is more than $60,000."

Now, students can log in through Active Directory and Centrify grants appropriate access based on course enrollment. Classes previously taught in the Mac-based computing labs can now be taught in traditional classrooms with students using their own laptops.

Student adoption has been strong, according to Goay, allowing the university to make classrooms more flexible and remove school-owned laptops, saving additional money.

"By simply enabling students to use their own devices, we have transformed our computing lab from endless rows of computers into a flexible classroom with more flexible and innovative teaching methodologies," added Goay.

The University of Southern California serves approximately 38,000 students with 3,500 full-time faculty members.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is the multimedia editor for Campus Technology and THE Journal. He can be reached at jbolkan@1105media.com.

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