Higher Ed Cloud Forum: Desktop as a Service – Moonshot to production in 6 months

Deanna Mayer, Brady Phipps — UMUC University College

Primarily online programs, 90+ programs and specializations, 80k students worldwide, 140+ classroom and services locations in 20 countries. Heavily into IT outsourcing – started with a VDI vendor, but they couldn’t scale. Needed non-device specific VDI that didn’t require an install.

Student requirements: fully integrated, one-click classroom experience; access across program, not limited to single course; secure environment providing immersive experience; ability to scale; single sign-on; rich metrics and analytics. Huge spikes in usage on Sunday nights before assignments were due.

January – April 2016 did a RFP. No vendor met all requirements. Most vendors focused on a single image across a corporation. Partnered with Amazon in April, project approved in June. Flew local solutions architect to Seattle to sit with AWS side-by-side for three weeks. Ten people for project team in a room focused on the problem, due by October. Initial launch to 400 students in August. Cut cord with legacy vendor in May – moved over 60 courses. Now have over 10k students using it. 22.5 hours/month average usage, 25% drop in student support requests.

Launched AccelerEd, a new company with Aloft, a cloud services unit.

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