This is the final part of a series, covering the Education sessions at the Microsoft Australia Partner Conference.
Start at part one (The Microsoft Australia Education Team) here...

We’re at the end of the write-up of the Education session from the Australia Partner Conference. At the conference, we packed all of these last nine blog posts into a 45 minute session, and yet this series has already run to 7,000 words - boy, we must have spoken quickly at APC Smile

Anyway, on with the final section, expanding on the story we shared at APC. Now it’s looking back and forward at the Microsoft product and service opportunities that exist in the education marketplace in Australia.

Key successes of the last year

Over the last twelve months, we’ve seen a number of key opportunities for our partners. The slide summarises them, but here’s some more commentary for each of the bullets:

  • imageThe Cloud: Education customers continue to adopt the Microsoft Cloud services with enthusiasm, including the shift to the Live@edu email service and new adoptions of the Windows Azure cloud service for building more flexible ICT services within schools and universities.
  • Windows 7 & Office 2010 deployments: These also continue across all sectors. Customers who have made the switch are discovering the increased manageability of their systems, and the cost-savings possible through reduced helpdesk support and reduced power usage. As part of the switch, many customers are exploring how to use better virtualisation - either of applications, or of the complete desktop - in order to reduce ICT management costs, and increase flexibility and mobility for users.
  • SQL Server: Another of the things we’ve seen in the last year is customers running projects to move key databases onto their Windows SQL Servers, from other platforms. In the case of Oracle databases, this has often been driven by the aim of reducing cost, whilst maintaining their service levels. And for critical workloads, there are examples of institutions moving their student management systems and learning management systems across to their SQL servers.

Looking ahead to next year

If those are the things we look back on, we also talked about the things we’ll expect to look back on in a year’s time with you - a forecast of the successes of 2012. Obviously, a bit trickier to do, but we thought it would be valuable to try and put some ideas down on a slide… Many of them are linked to cost saving opportunities for customers, as well as continuing to move their ICT infrastructure forward.

  • imageOffice 365: Continuing the move to the cloud, the next wave will be implementation and advice about Office 365 for education - helping customers to understand where it fits within their infrastructure and how to use it to reduce their on-premise ICT costs.
  • Voice: As ageing PBXs come up for replacement, there are more and more customers who have realised that using Lync for their voice system, instead of a conventional PBX, helps save money as well as improving collaboration between staff across campus - as well allowing new models of teaching and learning.
  • Windows 7 and Office 2010 deployments: This will continue to be something that customers will value the support of partners for, as they continue to migrate their installed base of computers, as well as extend out their use of System Center and Forefront to replace other software. And as customers realise that one of the best ways to prepare for the next version of Windows is to complete the deployment of Windows 7, this will continue to accelerate.
  • Private Cloud: If ‘Cloud’ was the buzzword of last year, then ‘Private Cloud’ and ‘Public Cloud’ will be the next year’s two buzzwords. We expect to see plenty of partners asked to support migration to Hyper-V, either to virtualise existing physical servers, or to reduce the cost of virtualisation compared to other virtualisation solutions.
  • CRM: Despite the fact that education has one of the most complex customer-relationship maps of any industry sector, it has been one of the slower sectors to adopting the use of CRM systems. However, what we’re now seeing is that that’s turning around fast (accelerated by changes in the marketplace, like the Bradley Report). The ideas that are popping up aren’t just confined to conventional CRM (like student recruitment) but also for managing some of the internal processes and events that institutions run.

Will this really be the list that we look back on next year, and say “Yes, these are the successes of 2011/12”? Well, although we don’t know, you can at least hold us to account by asking us to put the slide back and up and reviewing it!