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July, 2012 - Education - Site Home - MSDN Blogs
The Australian Education Blog
Ray Fleming's take on what's interesting in Education IT in Australia

July, 2012

  • Education

    Microsoft global Education Partner of the Year 2012


    Microsoft WPC logo 

    The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, in Toronto this month, was a chance to celebrate the success of partners who'd been crowned as Microsoft Partner of the Year in the global awards. A long term education partner, Dell, was recognised this year as our Global Education Partner of the Year for their focused work on building education solutions.  Of course, Dell has been a close Microsoft partner with Windows devices, laptops, slates, and tablets for many years, but their partnership is actually much broader than just hardware devices.  It was Dell’s Education Data Management (EDM) solution that won the award for them this year.

    Dell EDM ScreenshotThe Dell Education Data Management solution solves two critical aspects of using date to enhance learning. One aspect is assembling the data into a place and structure which allows a full picture of learning progress to take place from a 'single source of truth'; and the second aspect is presenting it back to users (whether that's leaders, classroom teachers, or students) in ways that makes sense, and simplifies a mass of data down to key insights.

    There's quite a bit of info, and case studies, on the Education Data Management system on the Dell website – as well as a detailed EDM datasheet in PDF

    Next stop in the awards season? Well, we'll shortly be announcing the finalists in the Australian Partner of the Year Awards – and there's an Australian Education Partner of the Year category there too.

  • Education

    What's in the Microsoft ECAL that many universities have?


    I was asked yesterday by a partner what a typical university is licensed for in Australia.

    So here's a quick summary:

    • Typically they have licensed a desktop suite - that gives them licences for Windows and Office on their staff and shared devices (eg computer labs etc) campus-wide.
      The main thing this doesn't cover is student-owned or student-dedicated devices (ie ones that are only used by a single student, rather than shared between students). For these devices, universities add a specific student option licence
    • They also typically add one of the CAL suites (a CAL is a Client Access Licence). This gives them the licences they need to access a range of Microsoft servers from those devices.
      Some universities license the Core CAL, but many now choose the Enterprise CAL suite, as they are using more advanced capabilities on their network (see the table below for the two suites)
    • Then they license the additional servers they need – and there's a mix between universities that choose to buy each server individually under Select Academic licences, and those which buy the their servers under a 'server platform' option, which gives them unlimited licensing for a range of servers across the campus.

    The differences between the CAL suites are summarised in this little table:


    Which means that?

    For many new IT projects, universities in Australia don't need to buy additional Microsoft licences, as they already have the coverage they need. This isn't the case for all products, and all universities, but when talking about new IT projects, it often seems as if they can simply expand their infrastructure, and just add a few low cost licences (eg a couple of servers) rather than adding a massive number.

    Which means that the Microsoft licences are normally the lowest cost component of any IT project in Australian universities Smile


    Learn MoreLearn more about the components of the Microsoft CAL suites here

  • Education

    Janison–the people behind online ESSA


    I've written a few times about one of our partners, Janison, who worked with the New South Wales Department of Education to produce the ESSA online science test for all students across their government, catholic and private schools. And whenever I meet Wayne Houlden, the Janison CEO, I'm always interested to learn of other projects that they are working on – all focused around delivering and assessing learning, through building learning communities, delivering distance learning, and enabling online skills and knowledge assessments.

    But one of the particular challenges faced by companies like Janison, who are based in regional NSW is recruiting new, highly skilled employees. As so much of the population of NSW is focused around the Sydney area, it can sometimes be tricky to find the right skills in a regional area, or persuading people with the right skills to move – even to attractive coastal towns like Coffs Harbour.

    But I reckon that Wayne's latest video might help solve a bit of that as this video so subtly shares some of the workstyle and lifestyle of working at Janison!

    Learn MoreVisit the Janison website

    Format: ???
    Duration: --:--

  • Education

    Appreciate your network manager? Celebrate with them, it's SysAdminDay



    If you work in a school, TAFE or university, today's the day to thank your IT support team. 27th July is the official global 'System Administrator Appreciation Day'. They are the people that got your network up and running in the first place – and then keep it running. They keep you connected to, and protected from, the Internet.

    And they do all kinds of things you don't notice until they aren't there – like making backups of your important data; or blocking tens of thousands of spam emails from reaching your inbox. Or stopping somebody stealing your confidential data. Oh, and they make sure you printers can print out the worksheets, and order the new toner and printer ink. And the millions of sheets of paper to go with it. As the website poetically describes it:


    A sysadmin unpacked the server for this website from its box, installed an operating system, patched it for security, made sure the power and air conditioning was working in the server room, monitored it for stability, set up the software, and kept backups in case anything went wrong. All to serve this webpage.

    A sysadmin installed the routers, laid the cables, configured the networks, set up the firewalls, and watched and guided the traffic for each hop of the network that runs over copper, fiber optic glass, and even the air itself to bring the Internet to your computer. All to make sure the webpage found its way from the server to your computer.

    A sysadmin makes sure your network connection is safe, secure, open, and working. A sysadmin makes sure your computer is working in a healthy way on a healthy network. A sysadmin takes backups to guard against disaster both human and otherwise, holds the gates against security threats and crackers, and keeps the printers going no matter how many copies of the tax code someone from Accounting prints out.

    A sysadmin worries about spam, viruses, spyware, but also power outages, fires and floods.

    When the email server goes down at 2 AM on a Sunday, your sysadmin is paged, wakes up, and goes to work.

    A sysadmin is a professional, who plans, worries, hacks, fixes, pushes, advocates, protects and creates good computer networks, to get you your data, to help you do work — to bring the potential of computing ever closer to reality.


    Go on – buy them a cupcake and make them a cup of tea before you go home Smile

  • Education

    2013 Microsoft Global Education Partner Summit–Hold the Date


    In Microsoft, we have a style of meeting invitation known as "Hold the Date", which is used to let us know that a date has been fixed for something, even if the full agenda isn't yet defined. It's handy to allow me to book my dairy and to make travel arrangements. So let me share that style with you:

    Hold the Date: 2013 Microsoft Global Education Partner Summit

    GEPS 2013Next year's summit will be on the 5th to 7th February 2013, at the Microsoft Campus in Redmond. Each year that we have run the global summit (known by it's acronym as GEPS) it has been a critical business planning and development opportunity for our key education partners around the world, and each year an increasing number of partners have attended.

    The feedback from Australian partners attending this year was very positive, especially as it gave great insight into the key product and strategy news for a critical set of product launches in 2012.

    Next year, as usual, we will have a limited number of places allocated to Australian partners, and as usual the event will be a 'behind dosed doors' event, with all attendees being briefed under NDA (Non. Disclosure Agreement) for much of the event. This means that you will be able to use the information for your business strategy planning, and be fully prepared for public announcements later.

    If you are an Australian Education Partner, and would like to receive an invitation to attend, then please drop me an email, or give me a call, to let me know - and I'll sort out a pre-approval for your summit place so that you can take advantage of early fares on your flights across the Pacific. Over the last five years, I have found that the partners who get most benefit from the event are those where they already have a significant education business, or have a strategic growth plan in education. It allows attendees to network with potential partners around the world (especially useful for partners who'd like to expand their Australian product/service offering by sourcing products from the rest of the world, or vice versa), as well as network with key Microsoft executives at our corporate headquarters.

    Of course, as this is a "Hold the Date" I can't give the detailed agenda yet, but the dates are fixed, so you can definitely plan your travel.

    We will also be looking at hold a pre-day on the 4th February for Australian partners, specifically looking at Dynamics CRM in education globally, giving you an extra opportunity to make the most of the week away.

    If you'd like to attend, or want more details, then the first step is to get in touch with me.

  • Education

    Office 365 for education case study–Woodleigh School in Victoria


    Last week, when we announced the broad availability of Office 365 for education in Australia, I was overseas, so I didn't manage to post as much information up as I'd hoped. So I'm catching up now – today it's a first Office 365 for education case study in an Australian school.

    Woodleigh School using Office 365 for educationThe case study, from our cloud partner, Paradyne, is of Woodleigh School in Victoria. The school has been one of the early adopter schools using Office 365 for education in Australia. They're a two-campus independent school which takes students from early childhood to Year 12, and are based on the Mornington Peninsula. As with many schools, they had a challenge of increasing costs and complexity of their IT system. Their first step, of moving their email systems on Office 365 for education in the cloud, meant that they could reduce the need for internal servers and local storage and backup – at the same time increasing accessibility for both Windows and Mac users – as well as for iOS and Android users.

    The Paradyne team helped the school implement a hybrid system, which allows them to integrate their user's between onsite and cloud services (for example, some users could have their email on a school server, fully connected to users in the cloud). With the full roll-out the school has been able to switch off three servers, saving them hardware, software and electricity costs.

    As Jonathan Walter, the Woodleigh School Principal summarised it:

      Having email hosted in Office 365 has meant we have reduced our number of servers by three, reduced our licensing requirements for Windows and email scanning. I don't have to worry about internal backups or disaster recovery and have saved precious time for our IT staff.  

    But Office 365 for education doesn't just provide an email service. Education customers also get access to the Office Web Apps, SharePoint Online and Lync Online in their free service, so the school has plans to start using these systems to reduce their costs further, whilst increasing their ability for collaborative learning and enhanced communication with parents, students and teachers. As Jonathan went on to say:

      With the successful move our email to Office 365, I am looking forward to the further benefits of Office Web Apps, Lync video conferencing online, SharePoint in the cloud, and cloud-based file storage.  


    You can read the full Woodleigh School case study on the Paradyne website. As Steve Fraser, the Director of ICT Services at the school said "I have nothing but praise for the service provided by Paradyne"

  • Education

    What's new for education in the latest Intune release?


    Yesterday, I wrote about Intune for BYOD in education, specifically for device management in education networks. But I didn't dive into much detail about the product, and what it can do. Although there's plenty of information on the Intune website, you might be interested in reading the guide to what's new in the June 2012 release of Windows Intune.

    In summary, the key things that I think are relevant to education are:

    • New Policy Templates – allowing you to easily define a device management policy for different kinds of devices – eg dedicated student devices owned by the institution; student-owned laptops; staff laptops; staff phones; student phones
    • Peer-to-peer software and update distribution – to optimize Internet bandwidth usage
    • Software application downloads – to allow you to make internal apps available to your users automatically on their mobile devices
    • Devolving some device management – for example, to allow some staff, researchers or students to add their own devices to your system
    • Automatically track mobile devices that access your data through your Exchange server, and link them to users
    • Define mobile device access rules – in addition to laptops, Intune supports Windows Phone 7, iPad and iPad 2, iPhones, iPod Touch, and Android devices running Android 2.1 or later.
    • Deploy policies to secure your institutional data on users' devices (eg PIN and wipe rules for staff smartphones)
    • Wipe mobile devices automatically

    There's a lot more information in the download below:

    Learn MoreDownload the Windows Intune "What's New" guide

  • Education

    Windows Intune in Education


    It seems as if we're right in the middle of a massive shift in technology in education, as we move rapidly towards 1:1 computing and a larger variety of devices appearing in classrooms and IT labs. And that's compounded by the arrival of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in education: students and staff connecting their own devices – phones, laptops, tablets – to your education network.

    If you're a high-tech IT manager in education, then you'll be using our System Center to manage that complexity, letting you manage many different types of devices from one place. But what happens if you're not the kind of institution who'd use something as advanced as System Center? Or you support a whole range of different schools (for example, you're a service partner for multiple schools, providing a managed IT service; or even a high school supporting your local primary schools)?

    That's where Intune might well come in handy, as it allows you to manage devices over the web – without having to control and own them completely. So, for example, you could use them to ensure that your student-owned devices are up to date with virus protection etc, without having to rebuild them with a school-defined computer image.

    The video below gives you an idea of the basics:

    And to get more info on Windows Intune, and it's ability to manage devices, software applications, anti-virus and system updates, take a look at the Intune website. From the site you can also get a 30-day free trial for up to 25 PCs, which might be the easiest way to understand what it can do in your specific scenario.

    Learn MoreFind out more about Windows Intune


    There is also education pricing for Windows Intune, which you'll be able to get from your Microsoft Education partner (and if you haven't got an existing partner, you can search for Microsoft Authorised Education Resellers here)

  • Education

    Connecting SkyDrive with Office 365 for education


    As schools and other education customers move to Office 365 for education in Australia (more info here), it provides another piece in the jigsaw puzzle of your technology infrastructure. Office 365 for education provides email, Lync communications, Office Web Apps and SharePoint in the Cloud, giving your students new ways to communicate, collaborate and support their learning.

    It also provides another option for where you put your student home drives – it could be on a local server, or in their SharePoint MySite in the Cloud. One of the benefits of putting student storage in the cloud is that will normally reduce your cost of IT – because Office 365 for education is free, it means that you can offload some of your IT infrastructure costs.

    With Office 365 for education, your students each receive a file storage allowance of 500MB free. And now, if you're thinking "Wait? 500MB? These days it seems like that's two multimedia PowerPoints and a couple of videos" then read on!

    You have a couple of extra options for expanding your storage space. One way is to add extra storage into your Office 365 for education service - costs and details are here. The other way is to use the SkyDrive storage - which is the equivalent of a disk drive in the cloud. SkyDrive gives every user 7GB of free online storage, larger than most other free cloud-based storage services. And there are apps available for computers and smartphones to make it easily accessible.

    SkyDrive was included within the Live@edu email service, and there were a number of ways to link this to your user management (eg with syncing to your Active Directory). Now that we've switched from Live@edu to Office 365 for education you'll no longer be managing your users in SkyDrive – instead each student will create and run their own SkyDrive account. But there are some third parties that have developed utilities to help you manage SkyDrive accounts.

    Sky Connector from Xstran

    Loryan Strant at Xstran has developed "DirSync for SkyDrive", which basically lets you connect SkyDrive accounts to your Active Directory. It means you can automatically create SkyDrive user accounts and storage space. And it synchronises passwords between your Active Directory and the SkyDrive, so your students only have to remember one password for both your school network and the storage on SkyDrive in the cloud.

    If your a network manager in a school, TAFE or university, this could be a useful solution to an IT management issue.

    Learn MoreFind out more about Xstran's DirSync for SkyDrive

  • Education

    How to choose the right Cloud service in Windows Azure


    My colleague Andrew Coates is a developer evangelist in Australia who loves Windows Azure. I recently sat through a training session with him, where he showed us all how to create a Windows Azure trial account, and deploy our first cloud-based application (if you're a regular reader, I have to agree with you – I didn't realise I had the skills to do that either Smile)

    One of the things he's great at is simplifying the complex possibilities of cloud services , and summarising what bits of the cloud are good for what purposes. I thought I'd share one of his key messages about Windows Azure, which gives his perspective on three key parts of Azure, and what kind of things they are good for. This might be a bit geeky for some of you, but sometime in the future you might just pop back here when you're thinking about reducing the number of servers running in your network, and popping some of your IT capabilities into the cloud, because you need to be able to scale a service up quickly, or reduce your need for servers in your own network.

    Azure Web Sites are especially interesting, as they allow you to very quickly setup a website, or series of websites, using standard content management systems like WordPress or Joomla! This would be useful for curriculum projects, where students have a need to setup and manage a website for a term, or where a teacher has a project that requires web servers for a large number of students. And you can easily set up 10 free websites under a 90-day trial subscription – which can be extended free for up to 12 months if you are using other Azure services (see the web page for details)

    Here's Andrew's view on when you'd use Windows Azure Web Sites, when you’d use Windows Azure Cloud Services, and when you’d use Windows Azure Virtual Machines.

    Windows Azure Web Sites are ideal for:

    • Modern web apps
      Perfect if your app consists of client side markup and scripting, server side scripting and a database. Powerful capability to scale out and up as needed.
    • Continuous development
      Deploy directly from your source code repository, using Git or Team Foundation Service.
    • Popular open source apps
      Launch a professional looking site with a few clicks using apps like WordPress, Joomla!, Drupal, DotNetNuke and Umbraco

    Windows Azure Cloud Services (Web Role) are ideal for:

    • Multi-tier applications
      Cloud-based applications that separate application logic into multiple tiers (i.e. caching middle tier, asynchronous background processes like order processing) using both Web and Worker Roles  
    • Apps that require advanced administration
      Cloud-based applications that require admin access, remote desktop access or elevated permissions
    • Apps that require advanced networking
      Cloud-based applications that require network isolation for use with Windows Azure Connect or Windows Azure Virtual Network

    Windows Azure Virtual Machines are ideal for:

      • Enterprise server applications
        Run your existing enterprise applications in the cloud, such as SQL Server, SharePoint Server or Active Directory.
      • Porting existing line of business apps
        Choose an image from the library or upload your own VHD.
      • Windows or Linux operating system
        Support for Windows Server, along with community and commercial versions of Linux. Connect virtual machines with cloud services to take full advantage of PaaS services.

    If you understand this, then you should probably make a point of reading Andrew's blog

    And if you're an MSDN subscriber, then hopefully you already know that you get up to $3,700 in annual Windows Azure benefits as part of your subscription?

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