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April, 2011 - Education - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The Australian Education Blog
Ray Fleming's take on what's interesting in Education IT in Australia

April, 2011

  • Education

    Microsoft's Licence Mobility - how it works for education

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    Icons_gears_blueLast week, I wrote about changes in our licensing, which introduced Licence Mobility, arriving from 1st July 2011. This will give customers much more flexibility in their decisions about deploying applications on-premise, and in shared data centres in the Cloud. For example, they can now use their licences to run key applications in a data centre which is shared between different customers (previously, a completely different licence type - called SPLA - was needed for shared data centres).

    I've now found a more detailed presentation that steps through the scenarios, and explains in detail what is now possible. For example, this slide demonstrates the gap filled by the new licence mobility, and differentiates between this and the SPLA licensing. Basically, licence mobility allows you to run a dedicated application on shared hardware, whereas SPLA works for shared applications on shared hardware.

    image

    Here's an example of the way that the licence mobility might work in education:

    A school wants to use a SharePoint-based learning management system - and rather than having it setup on a school server, they want their partner to run the servers in an offsite data centre. (This makes lots of sense, as the hoster is likely to provide 24x7 uptime support, which is exactly what students expect in today's learning environment. If they can't get to their revision notes at midnight before the exam, they get riled!)

    The partner is happy to host the SharePoint, but wants to run it on virtualised servers (who wouldn't?) which means that the hardware is shared - there may be a bunch of other systems running on the same physical server.

    Previously, the partner would have had to license this through SPLA licensing, and because this was complicated, it tended to put people off (both partners and customers).

    With Licence Mobility, what now happens is that the education customer simply moves their Academic licences to cover the hosted setup, avoiding the potential duplication of licences, or confusion of multiple licence types. The partner is responsible for licensing the Windows Server hosts - which isn't a change for them - but the customer now buys or provides the licences (in this case SharePoint) for the applications.

    As customers' attention turns to Cloud solutions, this opens up more opportunities for education partners to help them build a more agile and robust ICT system.

    Learn MoreDownload the full 'License Mobility' presentation for more info

  • Education

    Ribbon Hero 2 - bringing gaming and learning closer

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    It just might change the way we think about end-user training - ZD NetIt seems that one of the trendy topics discussed at education conferences these days is the combination of gaming and learning. Most of the time, it’s discussed in the context of the classroom or of students, but a few years ago we applied it to product training, in one of our experimental Office Labs releases, called Ribbon Hero. It was designed to test the effectiveness, feasibility and appeal of delivering Office training in a game-like setting. The heart of Ribbon Hero was a set of challenges that users play right in the Office applications. And to add the competitive element, Ribbon Hero integrates with Facebook so you can share your success (or in my case, failures) with your friends. Ribbon Hero offers to post an update to your Facebook profile when impressive point levels have been reached.

    Ribbon Hero 2

    The team behind Ribbon Hero have gone even further, with Ribbon Hero 2 - incorporating a completely new, cartoon style interface, and a new job for Clippy (the really annoying 'helpful' paperclip from Office 97-2003).

    Ribbon Hero

    Ribbon Hero is a free download, and has got to be a big step up from conventional training ideas and manuals. Having heard Sir Mark Grundy of Shireland Collegiate Academy talk about the way they get their students learning by having a leader table for educational games, I can imagine the same kind of thing happening with this.

    Ribbon Hero screenshotI could tell you more about it - but it is much easier for you to download it, and have a five-minute play, than for me to try and describe how good it is to use. And remind yourself as you're using it, that it's the equivalent of a long dull training course. Imagine how you'd have conventionally learnt what it's teaching. Next time somebody talks about gaming and learning, you can wisely point them towards an example they may not have seen!


    Learn MoreFind out more, and get the free download for Ribbon Hero 2

  • Education

    Microsoft licensing changes for hosted and shared services

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    imageThe pace of change in licensing - in positive ways for education customers - is speeding up. Hot on the heels of the EES licensing (which is leaving most customers I'm talking to much better off), we've now announced changes to licensing that will make it easier (and cheaper) to license software as you move to the cloud - specifically where partners are hosting an application, or servers, in their own data centres.

    Here's my quick summary of the changes from 1st July:

    • In what we're referring to as 'licence mobility', we're making it much easier when you are going to run software in a hosted data centre, by extending the licensing rights for a bunch of server technologies, so that you can run them on-site, or in a externally hosted shared data centre under the same licensing scheme.
    • The extension is for customers with active Software Assurance (you've automatically got this if you have a Campus, School or EES Agreement)
    • This will cover licensing for:
      •  
        • Microsoft SQL Server
        • Microsoft Exchange Server
        • Microsoft SharePoint Server
        • Microsoft Lync Server
        • Microsoft System Center servers
        • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
    • In addition, we're reducing the pricing and 'management overhead' for licensing Windows Server in hosted scenarios using our SPLA scheme (Services Provider Licensing Agreement), by eliminating use restrictions for conventional licenses, allowing us to remove Outsourcing licences
    • We've also added a Core Infrastructure Suite to SPLA licensing
    • This will help you with your flexible IT strategy - you can decide which of your on-site services you want to run in an off-site, third-party datacentre, without creating a big licensing headache. Tie this with the economies of scale from shared data centres, and things are looking up!
    • There's flexibility that allows you to move your applications to the cloud - and back - every 90 days

    For education, this whole announcement is especially important, as education customers can normally buy licences significantly cheaper than commercial organisations - and this has sometimes caused a hiccup where a partner has been buying licences to run a shared data centre, and has paid full commercial pricing.

    A typical scenario where this change is really helpful is where you are using the Microsoft Dynamics CRM system to manage your student and alumni relationships, and you are hosting it in your existing data centre. It's the ideal service to move to a shared, hosted data centre, as there are definite peaks and troughs in usage - and the server capacity required. In the past, you may have needed different (or additional) licences if you moved this to a shared hosted data centre - and because of this it often presented barriers to doing it.

    There is a fuller description of the changes on our Licensing site, and you can expect to see more detail over the next few months as we get ready to implement these changes from 1st July

    Learn MoreLearn More about the changes

  • Education

    Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 Review of the Economic Impact

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    imageWindows MultiPoint Server 2011 is the latest version of the clever technology that allows you to share one computer between multiple students - saving money on hardware, power and IT management costs. It's an ideal solution where you have banks of fixed computers, and it's coming up to replacement time - or where you need additional computers to supplement access for a 1:1 scheme. The kind of places it's popping up are in computer labs and resource centres/libraries. The beauty of it is that you can still provide plenty of access for your users - each gets their own keyboard, mouse and screen - but you typically only have one computer driving six screens.

    Now Forrester Consulting have done a Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 Review, looking at the Total Economic Impact of it. What they've done is to look at the long-term costs of running two alternative scenarios - individual computers and MultiPoint Server 2011 systems. And their comparisons look at the software, hardware, energy and management costs.

    As they are IT consultants, they use a lot of technical terminology and acronyms to describe the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), Risk-Adjusted ROI, and the 'can't-live-without-it' Nett Present Value (NPV). So if you love numbers, formulae and analysis, then you'll love this report.

    Here's my simple summary of their conclusions:

    • A school using Windows MultiPoint Server will spend 66% less than an alternative one using standalone computers
    • The three-year 'cost per seat' drops from $1,145 to $391 (which brings it down to about $130 a year)
    • Over the three years of use, you'll save 67% on energy, 66% on hardware, 99% on maintenance - and you'll spend 64% more on software.

    Learn MoreRead the full Forrester Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 Review of Economic Impact here

  • Education

    Webinar - Managing Documents and Content in SharePoint 2010

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    Icons_teacher_blueThere's a webinar on 21st April from 12:30-2:30PM (AEST) that will be of interest to all of those who've got SharePoint, and are working out how to get more value from it.

      Everyone can dig a hole to store content, finding that content and getting it out again is the key.  

    The challenge with SharePoint in education is to move it from a tactical asset (somewhere to put files and distribute work) to a strategic asset (to use it to improve the model of teaching and learning in your school/college/university). One of the challenges of building a great SharePoint is to stop it turning into the dumping ground for info (just becoming another Shared-Drive). In education I've seen great examples of student portals, where students use it for everything from homework assignments to exam revision; and parent portals, where parents can easily find attendance and attainment information for their children, and can access all of the previous school reports. And there are plenty of tricks that can be used to make it easier and simpler for different groups of users - for example, to allow students to email their work from home straight into a document library at school.

    So this webinar, on 21st April, will be really useful for you if you want to know what your SharePoint is capable of - and some insight into ideas that could be used to support your teachers and students.

    Learn MoreFind out more, and register for the SharePoint Document Management webinar

  • Education

    Australian Government ICT Strategic Vision 2011 - draft

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    Agimo blog logoThe Australian Government draft ICT Strategic Vision has just been published for consultation and feedback. They've published on the AGIMO blog, which is where they've invited public comments.

    I'm going to have a detailed read today, but a quick scan over the weekend highlighted what a well written, easily understandable document it is - and it directly addressed some of the issues that I've spotted with ICT in the public sector since arriving at the end of January. Overnight, I'll share more of my thoughts, but for the meantime, you should take a look at the draft Australian Government 2011 ICT Strategic Vision, and consider commenting - as well as considering how it might affect your strategy going forward.

    Learn MoreRead the draft ICT Strategic Vision

    The AGIMO is the Australian Government Information Management Office, which works across Govt to keep Australia position as a leader in the productive application of information and communications technologies to government administration, information and services.

  • Education

    The Australian Education Market by the numbers

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    There is no shortage of data on the education marketplace - but finding a summary of the whole market is tricky. So I created one from trawling across the various government sites and statistical bulletins.

    So here's my 'home movie' version of the key numbers for the Australian Education Market, which summarises:

    • Total Australian government spend on education
    • Total number of schools, TAFEs and universities in each state
    • Mix of state, catholic and private schools
    • Total number of students in Australian schools, TAFEs and universities
    • The Top 10 Australia universities, by student size

     

    What other data would be useful to have in here?

    Sources:
    Total education budget - Productivity Commission Report on Education and Training 2010
    TAFE budgets - NCVER Statistics
    Number of schools - ABS
    Number of TAFEs - NCVER
    TAFE staffing - Productivity Commission
    Higher Education staff - DEEWR
    Higher Education students - DEEWR
    Schools by State - ABS
    Higher Education by state - DEEWR
    TAFEs by State - NCVER

  • Education

    SharePoint training boot camps

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    Icons_teacherStudent_blueAlthough this isn't specifically just for Education partners, the upcoming CIAOPS SharePoint boot camps running in Sydney on the 25th and 26th of May and Melbourne on the 19th of May are ideal if you are looking at how to help your customers make more use of their existing SharePoint installation - especially where you have a solution which helps them to turn it from an IT-centric document storage system to a process-handling, learning environment supplementing ICT system.

    Each course is limited to a maximum of 20 attendees and will provide attendees with hands on knowledge of a range of SharePoint products and technologies.

    Amongst other things you will learn:

    • how to work with SQL Server which is the heart of SharePoint storage
    • how to install, migrate and maintain a variety of SharePoint products
    • understand how to recover from SharePoint disasters
    • how SharePoint integrates with Microsoft Office 2010
    • how to design business solutions that can be templated

    Each attendee also receives a 12 month subscription to the CIAOPS SharePoint Guide (www.wssops.com) valued at $299 as well as hard disk (valued at $100) containing virtual machines, documentation and more. The full day course costs $399.

    For more details visit www.ciaops.com/bootcamp or contact Robert Crane (director@ciaops.com) to sign up.

    Remember, that places are strictly limited and the courses are filling fast (they aren't just for education partners) so if you want to learn more about SharePoint and how to make it work for your business and your customers, sign up now.

  • Education

    Curtin University moves more services to the Cloud with Windows Azure

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    First they moved the students' email

    Every year, in the UK alone, 9,000 USB sticks are lost in the laundry*. How many of them contained a student's thesis?

    If you were a student at Curtin University from 2009, imagine how pleased you'd be if your email inbox capacity jumped up from 40MB to 10GB, and you could suddenly access your email from any computer and on your phone - and then you had a further 25GB of Cloud storage. You'd suddenly become a lot less reliant on USB sticks to keep your vital thesis drafts on. That's 40,000 students suddenly more relaxed about doing their laundry.

    The case study on Curtin's first moves into the Cloud covers their move to the Microsoft Live@edu service.

    Then they moved their own internal systems

    iPortfolioThe second step for Curtin University to the Microsoft Cloud was to move one of their other internal systems - iPortfolio - to support students whilst at university, and also when they were job hunting after graduation. Like many university systems, the challenge was to take an internal system, creaking under the weight of 40,000 students' data, and update it, reduce the cost - and make it available to students in 100 countries.

    iPortfolio allows Curtin students to upload multimedia learning materials into a personal portfolio, so that they have their own personal learning bank available throughout their studies - as well as giving them an electronic portable portfolio that they can present to prospective employers. The system was so useful, that within six months of building it in 2009, they were already hitting the storage challenges of success. Happening right at the time that they were trying to move away from capital-intensive IT projects!

    The project team migrated from their existing Oracle-based system, using expensive SAN storage in the university data centre, to the Windows Azure Cloud service - allowing them to more flexibly scale the system, and reduce the ongoing infrastructure support costs.

    Many of the examples of Windows Azure are about software development companies, moving massive consumer systems to the Cloud. What makes the Curtin University story interesting is that the developers in the University did most of the programming - they didn't get it taken out of their hands, but were able to keep control of their project and their data.

    Education in Australia is moving to the Cloud quite rapidly - and the reasons for it are clearly defined in this example, where the students, the staff and the university IT department all get a benefit.

    Learn MoreRead the full Curtin University Windows Azure case study

  • Education

    Education is moving to the cloud. What does that mean for suppliers to education?

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    'Education is moving to the cloud' might have seemed like a bold statement a year ago, but there's no doubt that for some functions - like providing student email - so many institutions have moved, that for the rest, the question is when not if. And other business systems are following.

    On Monday we announced that we're moving our Dynamics ERP system into the Cloud - using Windows Azure. The side note on this is that it gives another option for implementation, because customers can stick with on-premise systems, or switch to a cloud service, or use a bit of both (for example, to help with demand peaks). InfoWorld has a good overview on the ERP in the Cloud story.

    But as this general shift to the Cloud happens, the business model for suppliers is changing too. Because moving to the cloud normally means saving money (which means spending less somewhere along the line!) and also moving to subscription services - and away from buying software and hardware with up-front costs and licences. If you're a supplier to education customers, what does this mean for your business model?

    Many of the answers will be in the 'Microsoft Dynamics Cloud Partner Profitability Guide'. It's a well written business strategy guide - one for the CEO or CFO - and talks about the customer benefits of Cloud solutions:

    • Reduce time to value - especially as you can use the cloud elasticity to implement quickly, then scale up and down
    • Optimise investments - reducing up-front costs, the bureaucracy of capital investments and reduce working capital
    • Realising cost savings - by reducing conventional ICT infrastructure costs

    And it then goes on to summarise what it means for the industry as we move to the Cloud. We have to:

    • Increase demand generation - to produce a higher volume of customers that are better educated about our solutions
    • Close deals with fewer interactions - and productise more solutions to avoid custom-building every solution
    • Give customers cost-effective, valuable, low risk solutions (to avoid customer attrition)
    • Carefully manage the customer life cycle

    Graph showing cloud profitability model 

    There's a lot of detail in the report about business models - and what it does to your (and our) existing business models - and the chart to the right caught my eye as it pointed out that the break-even point for a Cloud solution is later than today's model.

    I know that there are customers in education that read this blog, who at this very moment will be wondering why we/you have to make a profit. But with Cloud services, they pay for a good service that supports their business goals - and if they're not getting it, they can switch - so I'm not shy of them reading this too!

    If you're in a Microsoft software or solutions partner, then you, or somebody in your organisation, would be wise to read the Guide, and hopefully learn some of the business lessons we've learnt so far as we move to the Cloud too.

    Learn MoreDownload the 'Microsoft Dynamics Cloud Partner Profitability Guide'

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