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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

    Put this in your diary - the Microsoft Australian Partner Conference 2011 dates


    Icons_globeAsia_blueThe Australian Partner Conference is a great opportunity to connect with Microsoft, and get an understanding of Microsoft’s strategy for the coming year,  and connect with other partners.

    The dates for this year's Microsoft Australian Partner Conference have been fixed for 2011. More details will come later in the year, but for now, time to lock your diary!

    When:  Tuesday 23 – Thursday 25 August 2011

    Where:  Gold Coast Convention Centre

  • Education

    How would a 'Microsoft Education Partner of the Year 2011' award look in your reception?


    At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, there are lots of awards handed out to our key partners. And the previous winners know how much it helps them to generate new business, get immediate credibility, and open doors.

    So even if you're not going to the Partner Conference itself, then you can (and should!) still nominate yourself for Education Partner of the Year. It's not that difficult - here's the blurb from the website:

    The Public Sector, Education Partner of the Year Award recognizes partners who have exhibited excellence in providing innovative and unique services or solutions based on Microsoft technologies to Education customers. Successful entrants for this Award will demonstrate industry knowledge and expertise, as well as consistent, high-quality, predictable service or solutions to Education customers. Successful entrants will also demonstrate business leadership and success through strong growth in new customer additions and revenue such as integrating with Microsoft Cloud based technology like Live@edu and Azure in addition to the Windows Phone platform. Partners applying for this Award should demonstrate effective engagement with Microsoft by leveraging the Microsoft Partner Network to develop, create demand for, and sell their software solutions or services.

    And the good news is that the deadline is now 29th April - which means that you can even do it last minute, and sneak in your entry whilst the Americans and Brits are all watching the Royal Wedding.

    Learn MoreLearn more, and enter your nomination for, the Education Partner of the Year award


    As my Dad always said, you've got to be in it to win it.

    And once you've done it, enter for Australian Microsoft Partner of the Year Award too - might as well use the answers twice!

    PS If you're not a Microsoft Partner, but you're a customer of a good one - then tell them to enter.

  • Education

    University CIOs - being pulled in all directions


    I've written before about the mindset of a university CIO (see all 'Mindset of a CIO' posts), as part of trying to look at the world through their eyes - What is it the are challenged by? What keeps them up at night? And what do they think is going well?

    At the CCA Educause conference in Sydney, I saw the video below - filmed at the University of Sydney recently. It is a series of short interviews which starts with Geoffrey Brown, who is Director of Faculty Services for ICT at the university, and then continues with a range of other faculty members.

    And if you want a good reason to spend 4 minutes watching this, how about these two quotes - both in the video below:

    "We are in a new era where there are so many more services that are now available, the expectations are so much higher than ever before. People in academia will get their solutions off the web - when they want it and how they want it. And the IT people will become vaguely irrelevant"

    Geoffrey Brown, who is Director of Faculty Services for ICT

    "Don't believe the hype. Face to face lectures are alive and kicking. We're social creaatures which thrive on contact with others. And, surprisingly, students appreciate the discipline and the structure which comes from attending traditional lectures."

    Vanessa Gysbers, Associate Lecturer in the School of Molecular Bioscience

    If you are a university CIO, these people are your customers - and the challenges they face are your challenges too. Must be difficult to balance off all of these priorities - within a fixed budget and a fixed team...

  • Education

    Copenhagen Business School moves to the Cloud


    imageCopenhagen Business School recently switched their student email to the Cloud, using Live@edu.

    The case study video below goes into detail about their selection and approval process (they involved students alongside the IT team in the selection process) and one of the quotes in the video reminded me of the closeness between Business Schools and future employers: "We liked the fact that everyone at some point in time has been in contact with Microsoft Office, which is why we chose something that people could recognise."

    One of the quotes in the video is something I've heard quite a few times when talking to customers, but it always strikes me as odd when I hear it:

      The transition has been very smooth….we heard almost nothing from the students. And we take that as a sign that it has been a success  

    It's almost as though the measure of success for IT implementations is that nobody has noticed you've done anything. And, if that is the case, then perhaps IT is underselling the business value it delivers to the organisation!

    View the video on the main Microsoft website

  • Education

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


    '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'

  • Education

    Every university in Australia will lose market share - what does that mean for university CIOs?


    I was just reading some analysts research - which sadly I can't share because of copyright issues - and it hit me that over the next decade every university in Australia is going to have a smaller share of the global student body than in the past decade. And that is going to impact on the University CIO Strategic Priorities for 2012 and beyond.

    The reason for this is the phenomenal growth rate of Higher Education students in countries such as China and India. Today's students from Asia are critical to the continuing financial model of many Australian universities. And in the future, even if the absolute numbers increase, the proportion that get education at a university in Australia will reduce - as hundreds of new universities are constructed in their home countries.

    imageDon't underestimate that task - the chart to the right shows the exponential historical growth in tertiary students from the UNESCO Global Education Digest for 2009. The number of tertiary students increased globally by 50% between 2000 and 2007.

    Currently Australia sits fourth in the global league table for inbound tertiary students, as it hosts approximately 7.5% of international tertiary students (just over 200,000, out of a total of 2.8m).

    As this growth in tertiary students has continued, and specifically with international students, the focus of CIOs in universities in Australia and worldwide has dramatically shifted over the last five years.

    Surveys show that attracting and retaining new students and researchers has moved into their top three priorities, as has activities which increase the growth of their organisation. And core IT tasks have gone down in their strategic priority lists.

    I think that to keep up with the growth in student numbers, even more shift has got to happen. CIOs are going to be a valuable asset to helping their university deliver learning channels that don't rely on physical buildings and students sitting in lectures. I know that this is already happening, but we're only seeing the thin end of the wedge. If a university wants to keep it's share of international students in the future, then it is going to have to find ways to teach them remotely - and to deliver a fully immersive, fully supportive learning environment to do it.

    So here's my prediction of the issues that will rise up the CIO's priority lists, to create the University CIO Strategic Priorities for 2012:

    Business Priorities

    IT Priorities

    1. Student recruitment and management support

    1. Integration of processes and systems

    2. Flexible learning delivery on campus

    2. Migration to the cloud

    3. Flexible learning delivery off campus

    3. Connecting learning technologies into core systems

    4. Reducing university infrastructure costs

    4. Removing and replacing legacy systems

    IT has to become an enabler for the growth in the future, and the IT team in the university will be making the same journey that IT teams in businesses are making too - to connect what they do to the strategic value of their business. And to be able to do that, they'll need to have a good grasp of the macroeconomic issues, the strategic university priorities, and the business benefits that their IT investments deliver in that context.

  • Education

    What's this blog about - the education blog tag cloud

    There's a lot of people discovering this Education blog for the first time (nearly 10,000 of you in the last two months). You're probably used to the usual 'About This Blog' page - but perhaps you're a visual learner like me. So here's the real 'About This Education Blog' page - a picture of the last two month's worth of content.
    You can click and explore any of the content, and discover it for yourself.

    And thanks to Tagxedo for the brilliant tag cloud design. It's free and I can imagine that teachers could create some wonderful online classroom resources, as well as poster prints, with this.

    A nice feature is that you can set Tagxedo to search specific websites when you click the tag cloud - in my case, this blog.

  • Education

    Microsoft's Licence Mobility - how it works for education


    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.


    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

    Cloud migration strategies in Education


    I've just updated the list of webcasts on Cloud migration strategies - which focus on the migration of internal Microsoft business applications to the Cloud with Windows Azure, by adding the interview with two key architects - Scott Richardson and Tom Woods.

    They talk extensively about the cost-saving aspects of moving to the Cloud, but one of the other parts I found interesting was the framework that they have used to assess all of our internal applications. As organisations think about Cloud migration strategies, there are both technical and business issues to consider. Scott and Tom talk about the way that they used some set criteria which allowed them to develop a prioritisation framework, based on two key aspects:

    • Business aspects

    - Criticality of the application
    - Regulatory issues
    - Information sensitivity

    • Technical aspects

    - Complexity
    - Monitoring needs
    - Access to source code
    - Database size

    By rating applications on these criteria, they were able to categorise each application as Basic, Intermediate or Advanced. And then they could used these to plan what to move to the Cloud and in which order.

    The parallels between our internal business systems, and IT systems in education are strong. If you were to do the same for your application portfolio (whether you're a software developer or CIO), what would it look like? And do your current plans reflect the priorities?

    You can download the MP3 of the interview here, or use the link below for the full list of webcasts:

    Learn MoreSee all of the TechNet radio episodes on Microsoft's experiences of Cloud services migration

  • Education

    Connected Learning Workshop and Training for Education Solution Partners



    Microsoft would like to invite our education solution partners in Australia to our free technical workshop on the Connected Learning solution area being held in Malaysia on 4th - 6th May 2011.

    This workshop is designed for pre-sales technical, consultants, system engineers and technical decision makers with an interest in Microsoft platform solutions for education collaboration including the Learning Gateway framework and Live@edu. We expect that after this training you will be able to deploy education solutions based on these platforms that leverage SharePoint, Exchange and Microsoft’s cloud platform for education – Live@edu.

    Date and Location

    4-6 May 2011
    Kuala Lumpur

    Course Objectives

    After completing the instructor-led Connected Learning workshop, attendees will be able to understand:

    • What is Live@edu and what it provides for education
    • What is Live@edu value for partners
    • How to plan and start Live@edu engagement
    • How to sign up and provision users into Live@edu,
    • How to implement single sign-on and federation with Live@edu
    • How to integrate Live@edu with SharePoint
    • How to migrate email to Live@edu
    • What is new in SharePoint 2010
    • What is SharePoint Learning Kit
    • How to deploy Office Web Apps
    • How to implement SharePoint workflow using Visio
    • Example of Learning Management System (LMS) using SharePoint 2010

    Who Should Attend?

    Microsoft partners are invited from across the Asia-Pacific region with an interest in the education sector, including solution integrators and ISV partners. You don’t necessarily have to be an existing partner in education – the purpose of the workshop is to expand your technical skills for solutions in education. Prior technical knowledge (level 200) of SharePoint, Powershell and Exchange is highly recommended.


    You will need to register before Friday, 23 April - confirmation will be on a first-come-first serve basis.

    Detailed agenda for the training and venue

    Registration and accommodation details form

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