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Penn State Implements Clientless Remote Access to University Applications

Penn State has replaced its Java-based remote access system with a clientless solution to provide students and faculty with access to university software from anywhere, through virtually any device.

The university's previous Java-based system required installation and maintenance of software on faculty and student devices. "Any time a Java update came out, we experienced a flood of help desk issues," said Preston Baker, systems administrator in the Classroom and Lab Computing division of IT at Penn State, in a prepared statement. According to Baker, the university wanted to replace its existing remote access system with one that didn't require plugins or Java.

Penn State implemented Ericom AccessNow, a clientless remote access solution, to support 96,000 students and 7,000 faculty across 22 campuses. Ericom AccessNow lets authorized users access university software from any device with an HTML5-compatible browser, including Apple iPads and Google Chromebooks. According to information on the company's site, Ericom AccessNow works with "Windows applications and desktops (virtual & physical), running on Windows Terminal Services / RDS / VDI platforms, including Microsoft Hyper-V and other hypervisors."

Faculty and students at Penn State currently use Ericom AccessNow to access mathematics, statistics, Microsoft Office and SolidWorks computer-aided design programs. According to the company, AccessNow also extends the availability of the university's 8,696 Windows workstations located in more than 1,400 labs and classrooms. "From a business perspective, AccessNow allows us to extend the learning environment to off-campus students and faculty, at home or during off-hours," said Jonathan Holman, IT manager in Classroom and Lab Computing, in a prepared statement. "This helps facilitate remote learning and off-campus collaboration."

Since implementing AccessNow, Penn State's Classroom and Lab Computing division has seen a 90 percent reduction in help desk support tickets because they no longer have to install and maintain remote access software on client devices. "With AccessNow, we have a tenth of the support volume, freeing us up to focus on other IT initiatives," said Baker in a prepared statement.

This summer, Penn State plans to expand its use of AccessNow to deliver a full desktop experience for faculty and students.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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