Whilst it's not a student who's written this app it is a very well structured article describing their app design and development process and I thought you'd find it interesting.
UI Centric are the brains behind the amazing new Great British Chefs app (GBC), which is pretty much the most beautiful app on Windows 8. Check out the video at the end of the article to see it in action. Despite having hugely successful GBC apps in the iOS and Android Stores, UI Centric were charged with creating no less than the best app in the Windows 8 Store. UI Centric’s Director of Service Dan Ulzhoefer explains how they sweated over the UX and design process to bring the idea to life.
“We were really excited by the opportunity of taking the GBC digital experience to a whole new level on Windows 8.. When I met with the CEO of GBC, Oliver Lloyd, we discussed very early on during the pitch process our desire to create a standout application that really showcased the incredible content. We had a mutual passion and commitment to create a truly spectacular experience, which along with our strong credentials in developing for the Windows ecosystem meant we were lucky enough to be selected as their design and development partner. Our goal from the very outset was to create the best application in the Windows Store, with a UX that surpassed that of other platforms (and they’re pretty good as well, to be totally impartial!).
We identified two primary use cases for the app. Firstly, to entertain, delight and inform users through the beautiful high res food imagery, chef bios, articles and video content. Secondly, to aid in cooking recipes using the advanced recipe search function, recipe details and step-by-step cooking mode interface, timer function and shopping list with isle and ingredients views (you do need to buy the ingredients before you can start cooking, after all).
Our Information Architects (IA) led the UX process. Starting with defined user requirements and our knowledge of the platform we started to wireframe, in detail, the UX. Wireframes are the blueprint of the UX that detail navigation, taxonomy and hierarchy of content, features and functionality.
Our UX ideation process was very involved – we conducted multiple workshops with GBC before inking any designs. It was important to first understand the experience we intended to create to meet the needs of our users. We went through numerous iterations of the UX before moving on to the design to make sure we didn’t just build a beautiful application. We wanted to go much deeper and build an intelligent UX that leveraged many of the native capabilities of the Windows 8 platform. Multiple iterations of wireframes were worked and reworked until we were satisfied with the application we intended to build. The final application experience was designed to capture the user’s attention straight from the initial loading of the hub pages’ elegant transitions (created in Expression Blend), stunning imagery and an immersive and playful recipe search randomizer. The information architecture was devised to ensure that navigation between content is fluid, feeling like an evolving exploration rather than diving deeper and deeper into a hierarchical structure with potential dead ends. Sweating over the UX doesn’t ad overhead, instead it means saving time and money further down the build process and results in a much happier customer!
Windows 8 was the ideal platform to fulfil the two primary use cases because of its native capabilities, such as semantic zoom, snap views, notifications, live and secondary tiles, search and share. Each of these Windows 8 features has been instrumental in taking the GBC app to a new level of refinement. Separating the graphic design stage from the UX process removes biased decision-making influencing the planning of the experience. Once the UX is largely agreed the graphic designs can kick off in earnest. We invest an equal amount of effort in design, working collaboratively with GBC to ensure compliance with brand guidelines, whilst creating a visually arresting interface design. We really were able to create something special. The “content first” philosophy of the Windows 8 platform is a fantastic fit for the Great British Chefs’ brand. The platform highlights their fantastic imagery and recipe content.
Once the design was approved we started the build using C# and XAML in Visual Studio, which gave us a lot of flexibility. From our perspective, developing for Windows 8 is really productive due to its coding flexibility and the development tools made available using Visual Studio and Expression Blend. This lets us continually push the design and animation envelope, but still deliver within deadlines and to budget. Performance was key, every transition, animation and interaction had to be elegant. We wrote an entirely bespoke navigation stack that let us completely manage page loading, caching and transitions. We could selectively preload sections of forthcoming pages, cache already created visuals and pages for re-use and selectively overlap pages to allow for smoother page transitions. This led to a much faster and improved experience. The entire team works in an open plan office and regular interaction is encouraged. All team members have full visibility of iterative work throughout the project to make sure that the UX envisaged at the start of the project is manifested in development. Building the GBC app was unique in that we took a joint development approach with GBC to transfer knowledge to the GBC development team so they could continue to maintain the application. To support this Windows 8 development onboarding we hosted GBC regularly at our offices and collaboratively developed the application, offering guidance and advice throughout the process. They were and remain to be an absolutely pleasure to work with. We have an excellent rapport, built on a common ambition to create something special that we’re all proud of. We used Windows Azure to host all the videos and articles because it allowed GBC to host their extensive catalogue of videos in a cost-effective way that can scale with their business. The streaming quality and speed is fantastic!
We’ve got lots going on at the moment – we just launched Time Out for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 across 6 regions and we’re about to launch a sophisticated Line of Business application that leverages a Windows 8 UI and Windows Azure backend. On top of that we’ve got two Xbox media applications due to launch in July 2013 and several other Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 applications in production. Our customers are getting phenomenal results from the platform and we encourage them to take a closer look (or get in touch!)
Company Bio UI Centric are market leading multi-platform User Experience (UX) Solutions Company. We provide services to clients in the United Kingdom, Continental Europe and North America. Our services include Information Architecture (IA), Design, Development/QA and Project Management. Additionally we have an in-house state-of-the-art user-testing lab, enabling early testing of UX and design concepts. We’re a Microsoft development partner and have successfully developed over 55+ Windows 8, Windows Phone and Xbox applications. We are expert in creating digital experiences that blend stunning design and best-in-class UX principles to ensure our client's digital properties work hard to deliver results. We are passionate about making things easier for users, ensuring that they can engage with their favourite brands in the most delightful manner, whenever and however within the contexts of their lives. You can find out more at www.uicentric.com.
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The order form can be viewed/downloaded here
Vivek Doraiswamy and Riham Satti are students from Oxford University and the Co-Founders of Swapplr, a swapping and trading site for students using the latest Microsoft technology to help the student community and marketplace.
“Take the TV! I don’t need it”. There it was. Eureka, a gap in the market. Vivek’s friend was just about to graduate from the University of Oxford and he couldn’t take his TV with him. Not a big deal, right? For us it was the start of Swapplr. It was a flat screen TV costing over £200 and he was selling it for £50!! Was it broken? No. Did it have a missing piece? No. Was it in perfect condition? Yes. Till this day forward we thank that flat screen TV. Literally. Every year each student spends £1500 on living expenses (excluding food and rent) and when they graduate from University they no longer need these things - but at the same time new incoming students require those exact same goods. That’s the theory behind Swapplr. When we started we thought. ‘why don’t we let people swap goods?’ But it quickly grew to a swapping and trading site for students.
Swapplr only allows students with a legitimate University e-mails to sign up to ensure that we restrict the service only for students (no Hotmail allowed, sorry Microsoft). Validating the University students e-mail’s turned out to be the biggest problem we ever faced. Why? Universities are very strict with their email filtering. Solution? Azure’s integration with third party applications such as ‘SendGrid’ made our lives so much easier as we had an amazing monitoring tool not just for the Windows Azure Services but also for their third party add-ons.
The Windows Azure storage plan was so fast and cheap that we even hosted our database in SQL Azure and media files in Windows Azure Storage. Vivek being a developer for Swapplr, it felt like he was given this magical wand in a button form called “Publish” that HOSTED THE ENTIRE PLATFORM in one click (API, Storage, Database & Website). Another problem with most data driven applications is the scaling. With azure we could rest in peace as we started of our development on the ‘free website’ and during our beta testing shifted to ‘shared’, and in the future we can move it to ‘reserved’. It is exactly the same with the SQL Azure Databases, the webedition is free and again in future we can move it to “business” Mode.
These days notification is one of the key aspects, and even that is made possible with just THREE lines of code using the Windows Azure Service Bus. Now that we got the entire cloud platform operational we focused on the new Windows 8 & Windows Phone 8 devices, using the same Visual Studio and Visual C# as the site. It felt like we were already months ahead. Both the Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 apps use live tiles bringing the app to life. The best part it’s not just animated tiles, but tiles with a live feed from the server. Visual Studio is built in with the Simulator for the Windows 8 and Windows Phone. They're loaded with the real operating system and hence testing the development on those are the same as testing it on the devices. Perfect for us coders. Both the Windows 8 and Phone 8 apps use XAML for the front end and C# for the back end. Porting really was as simple as Copy/Paste. The Windows RT, Windows Phone 7.5 and 8 devices support HTTP Client and JSon.Net; heaven for Data driven applications like Swapplr.
Swapplr was accepted to AppCampus and AppCademy in February 2013. AppCampus is an €18 million joint project of Aalto University, Microsoft and Nokia. In addition to this Swapplr was National Finalist at Microsoft’s Imagine Cup 2013. Imagine Cup is an annual competition sponsored by Microsoft that aims to identify and support promising student start-ups. Microsoft's Imagine Cup 2013 was a memorable experience for Team Swapplr. Imagine Cup, AppCampus and AppCademy are a big success. We’re extremely excited about Swapplr’s progress – it’s available for Oxfordshire University students and is coming to a city near you!
Published on June 10, 2013 by Sara Allison RSS
You’ve got mean coding skills but why would you ever really need fluffy marketing? No-one likes being sold to, right? But… whether it’s selling yourself, promoting your app or making sure people know about your website, sometimes marketing is a necessary evil. If you need some tips and tactics, you might find this useful. If you’ve been there done that, let us know what’s worked for you!
If you follow these principles you’ll ensure marketing is intrinsic to your product/service/app/website and have a better chance of success.
Tip: If all other six principles are working correctly it should make number 7 easier.
Got the bug? Get more marketing tips and advice from Lorraine Starr of Yippee Entertainment, who published the popular game Chimpact, plus find out how to monetise your app through ads from Mark Allen at Ranyart Systems.
The session will take place at our Cardinal Place offices in Victoria, London and will be deliberately kept to a small and interactive meeting to help explore the many aspects of the Windows Azure platform and technology stack and to make sure you get a chance to ask lots of questions.
• Creating highly-available, infinitely scalable, multi-tier, games using Windows Azure as a rich “Platform as a Service” environment
• Authenticate and manage users across multiple devices with minimal effort
• Designing highly scalable multiplayer game running across cloud networks and data centres
• Perform post game analysis using big data techniques such as cloud based data warehousing and Hadoop
• Create, stream and managing on-demand video
There is no cost to attend this event and we’ll even lay on some refreshments.
Monday 1st July, 2013, Microsoft Offices, Meeting Room No 5, Cardinal Place, 80-100 Victoria Street, London. SW1E 5JL
1:30pm – Registration and coffee
2:00pm – Briefing starts
3:30pm – Short coffee break
5:30pm – Briefing ends
Register to attend now by sending an email too email@example.com.
Haven’t got the first clue about how to monetise your app? Thinking about ads but not sure where to start or what’s involved? Mark Allan from Ranyart Systemsshares his experiences so far – his Manchester United app is not only the top rated free app in the UK, it’s also the top rated sports app in the world.
“When I did the initial Manchester United app I decided to put it out there for free to get the numbers up – I thought I’d figure out monetisation later on. After a while I dropped in Microsoft pubCenter ads to see how that would go. It didn’t make me lots of money but it was more about getting my app in front of people. Now I’ve got 50k downloads I get a reasonable income from it. The new version has an extended range of ad providers including Nokia Ad Exchange and a couple of others like the adduplex where all the apps that use that ad exchange run ads for each other – so there’s no money in and no money out unless you choose to run an ad rather than exchange. It’s more about getting your app in front of people.
All of the ad providers are reasonably easy to integrate although a couple of providers are a bit buggy. pubCenter and Nokia are trivial for example. I put some effort in to build some code that balances how often the ad providers work so I can keep an eye on revenues and send info to the app to base towards Nokia or pubCenter depending on what’s working and what categories are effective – you need to have some control over the ads and how they’re served up to your users. There are open source controlsthat do the same sort of thing around balancing so you don’t have to go and create your own like I did. All the providers give you access to the inventory of suppliers so you have a list of advertisers ready and waiting, you don’t have to find any. You can filter them by territory and if you have business intelligence from your stats like their gender, location and age then you can provide that information through a control which will improve your performance. For example you can filter on health or sports based apps to choose to run ads that are aligned to your app category and what your users are interested in. That’s where the fine tuning (balancing) comes in. I get around 200k impressions a day – about half my users are coming back regularly which is really good retention even though the app isn’t ranked at the very top. What makes them come back? I update the content regularly like news so if people have pinned the app to the start screen then it’s a great way to encourage them to pop back in and get the latest news. It really encourages people to keep launching the app.
I’ve got a 2 pronged approach to marketing – when I wrote the app I decided I was going to put lots of effort into links to matches and commentary and making it a really good app. It helped that it gets so highly rated – it’s still at about 4.9 stars on average. The other approach is when I wrote the app I spent a while on social media like Linked In and Man U forums and just told people about it. That seeding helped it climb up the charts. Once you’re in the top 10 or so the app starts to market itself. I use Distimo for reporting and it told me I’ve been promoted twice in India and once in the UK Store just in the past week. I did all my marketing with no budget, but investing in marketing is the next step really, so watch this space!”
I caught up with Lorraine Starr from Yippee! Entertainment, creators of the hugely popular Windows 8, Windows Phone and iOS game Chimpact, and got her to share some secrets on how they marketed the app.
“We didn’t get support initially from Apple when we launched Chimpact (although they have since featured us), so like most other app developers we had to do our own PR and Marketing. Most apps don’t get picked up by the app platforms and have to do what they can to get their apps in front of customers. There are three key key elements to marketing that we’ve found really successful. 1. Social Media The key thing we did was build links into the app itself encouraging users to like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.
We brought the main character in the game, Chuck the Chimp to life by giving him his own Facebook page and Twitter account.
The key thing is not to bore your audience with endless posts, people will drop out if what you’re saying just fills up their news feed. Only post interesting/news worthy content that resonates with users of your app. We ran a competition to design a Chimp that was promoted on Facebook, offering one person in the UK and one in the US a chance to design a member of Chuck’s Chimpact family and have their design turned into a character in the Windows 8 & Windows Phone 8 versions of the game. The UK winner got the chance to go to our studio in Manchester and see their creation turned into a video game character. You can also connect your Windows Store app to an online identity provider that uses internet authentication and authorization protocols like OpenID or OAuth– so you can get access to Facebook’s open graph API in Windows 8, allowing users to sign into your app using their Facebook credentials.
Social media also gives people a way of asking you for help if they get stuck or give you feedback. We get fantastic comments and feedback just because we’re approachable and users can come and talk to the team. The best way to manage social media is to track the conversations around your app constantly, I do a daily search for ‘Chimpact’ and hijack people’s conversations to engage them and join in the conversation. It’s hard work but necessary.
PR has been the most valuable thing but not easy to do, usually its about who you know and the connections you can make. For example, we serendipitously got some great publicity from the Celtic supporters who happened to mention Chimpact. I jumped on the conversation as Chuck and Chuck ended up engaging the Celtric team mascot, “Hoopy The Hound Dug” and had a picture tweeted round of the two “furry friends”. We even put a Celtic scarf on Chuck which really resonated with the supporters.
We also saw a direct boost from links we had already with a premiership footballer who tweeted about Chimpact for us just from the fact we had a personal link with him. Whoever you know, make sure you let them know about the app you’ve created and pull in some favours! The value of celebrity involvement or endorsement is amazing. The effects are short-lived, they only last for a day or so – as long as the Tweet is in their stream – but they’re very impactful. If you can afford to hire a PR agency then do it, it’s so important to target the wider market. We were lucky enough to get support from Microsoft and saw excellent results from an article in The Sun and publicity from Jonathan Ross, but usually you have to invest in that PR coverage unless you’re well connected!
In the early days I managed to get us a mention in The Times – the journalist Stuart Dredge used to run an iOS news magazine so I knew him from there. He picked up on Chimpact and he put a piece in The Times. It’s important to get your app some coverage in the general mainstream press as well as your local newspaper/s, both online and offline.
Look at who you know and what networks they have that you can hook into. For example, we have the advantage of being based in Media City so they've supported us by promoting Chimpact via their social media and The Brand Detective also gave us a feature through links we had with them. It’s important to look at cross partnerships - who do you work near or is in your extended community that might be interested in your app? People are much more willing to collaborate and help each other than they used to be. If you’re not cash rich then hook up with other devs to do some joint marketing and PR to cut costs. Tell everyone you know - friends, colleagues, family and people you know who work at the platforms you’re working with. Before we started working with Microsoft we saw them as a big, faceless corporation. We've been bowled over by everyone at Microsoft we've dealt with, they’re very down to earth and willing to help which was a huge revelation. No-one else does that. It's really important for the developer community.
James Senior is Senior Group Marketing Manager of Windows Apps at Microsoft so he knows a bit about apps marketing. How do you make sure customers can find your app, let alone use it? I caught up with him to get some ideas…
”My team helps developers and designers be successful on Windows. The new app model, the new way of distributing, discovering and buying software and the huge investment in new form factors is huge for developers and designers. There’s the opportunity to target a huge number of screens, to take advantage of the fact you can play on your Windows device yet also be really productive on Windows – you have one device with you at home on the sofa but that’s also great in the office…
1. BUILD A GREAT APP
It sounds basic but to successfully market your app it needs to be great to start with. Use the documentation on design.windows.com to build in all the features of Windows 8. The design and UX of Windows 8 is something people love – it’s engaging, you can present content in unique ways that other platforms can’t. Many developers face the problem of working out how to scope their app – what features do you include? Once you’ve made sure your app focuses on your USP, your core business and how you communicate that to your customers, how do you know when to stop on all the auxiliary features? A unique feature of Windows is the interaction between apps it facilitates. All those features and scenarios extraneous to your core business can be handled by other apps in the system. Quick example: if you’re in the Recipes app, their value prop is to provide the best recipes out there on the net bar none. However what they don’t do is collate recipes from other places, but share the app and Windows automatically finds other apps that can use the data and bingo, up pops Pepper Play and presents the recipes in a way you can shop or cook. The great thing about Windows is the ability to provide all of those scenarios to your customers, cataloguing them into an uber list of apps that interact with yours.
2. REPRESENT YOUR APP WELL IN STORE
A simple step is to make sure you have really compelling screenshots for the user to browse through and see how your app works and what it offers. You need to submit these when you publish your app to the Store. Make sure those images highlight the unique features of your app. If you have a paid app, make sure you leverage trials to let people try before they buy – it’s the most friction free way people can find out what value your app can bring. Sell-through is very powerful. Users don’t know what to expect or what they’re going to get when they download your app, so the more information you can give them in the Store, the more you can let them know what the experience will be. Most people won’t buy an app if they don’t know what value it’ll bring to them or how they could use it. Remember that the Store algorithms are based on user ratings, so if your app is good then it’ll get the ratings it deserves.
3. ENGAGE – AND RE-ENGAGE THE USER
A great way to engage the user is through the design and user experience. Something that surprised us and our partners is the amount of time it takes to create a beautiful app experience – we’re seeing the best apps taking up 40-50% on design. Lots of people don't plan for that - whether it’s money or time and effort that’s needed - but that's what you need to create a really great experience. Back in 2011 we started working on a design agency network. We now have 200-300 companies trained on Windows 8 UI guidelines and the skills to design great apps ready to partner up with developers who don’t have design and UI skills. An example of an app that demonstrates engaging and re-engaging the user is Naturespace - they have amazing audio content, that's what they do, collect record ambient noises from diff settings, like a rainforest, lightening storm, meditation etc., so their IP is in the content. Windows has an amazing audio stack, that lets their HD content really come to life. The Naturespace team took advantage of using Windows to present their IP, and combined it with a very beautiful app. The team are a start-up based in the US who decided to invest in the app design. They came up with design concepts that we hadn't seen before – whereas using templates is a great start it’s not really what the design language was intended for, essentially it’s a framework to use typography, motion and animation in interesting ways. This app breaks out of the mould. They also use in app purchasing, so you download the app for fee including samples of their content which gets customers hooked. to They’ve had great success with that model. Apps need to differentiate themselves and going beyond the templates is one way to stand out from the rest. This is especially important when you’re working with brands – ITV doesn’t want to look like the BBC for example. Of course having a great app, a brilliant design and an engaging user experience isn’t job done! True marketing happens after your app is in Store. Live tiles are a great way to re-engage users to be interested in your app, not only with fresh, immediate content but they’re also another way of getting more screen real estate. The People app let’s you find out what the people closest to you are up to, you can pin specific friends to your homepage and use native features like search and share that give users the opportunity to go back into your app. If you’re not using the search feature you’re not taking the opportunity to re-engage your users - the same applies to the sharing feature. Windows will surface any other apps that can handle that type of data so you don’t have to worry about what other apps a user has installed. In this new model it quickly becomes apparent that you can’t achieve every feature known to man and you can rely on the ecosystem to provide relevant contextual content to your users. This theme of engagement within apps is something that’s really different on the Windows platform. If you’ve got a website then the easiest thing to do is detect if someone's running Windows 8, and then you can upsell them by providing them with a link to download your app. One other thing to think about is advertising through other applications who are using ads to monetise on Windows today. By doing that you’re reaching a captive audience on the hunt for apps and you can target particular users depending on the ad network you use, i.e. Windows 8 users.
4. USE YOUR COMMUNITY
If you’ve got any presence on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest – use it to tell your community about your app. You can connect your Windows Store app to an online identity provider that uses internet authentication and authorization protocols like OpenID or OAuth – so you can get access to Facebook’s open graph API in Windows 8, allowing users to sign into your app using their Facebook credentials. Once there's a relationship between your app, Facebook and the person, you can ask the person to publish stories from your app.As well as Facebook, you can connect to other social media channels like Flickr, Google, Live, and Twitter. Chimpact set up a Twitter account for it’s main character Chuck – basically any way you’d advertise and promote apps on other platforms should be the same way you promote apps on Windows 8. Everyone is used to seeing ads in apps for iOS and Android, advertising gives you downloads, so just promote your Windows 8 app like you’d promote any other app or service you provide. The Fox FX network app does a great job of combining brand colours, typography and beautiful full bleed photography to engage users with their TV shows. They also have a social aspect to their content which is nice, incorporating a social feed based on Twitter and Facebook so you can pan along throughout the day and follow spikes in a discussion. The app also uses semantic zoom so you can get an idea of when the peak was so it’s easy to navigate, you get a roll up of where it happened e.g. on Twitter.
5. BE MORE BUSINESS SAVVY
In general anyone building an app is having to get more savvy when it comes to business, to differentiate themselves and using the business models afforded in the App Stores. Devs would benefit from getting even more business focused - everyone tends to go for advertising, but there are better tactics like trials and in-app purchases that are more sophisticated. The games industry are great at doing it – their model tends to be ‘free to pay’. You’ve just got to make sure you disable in app purchases if your child likes games like Zombie vs Ninjas… many devs jump into starting their project as they’re interested, want to find out how to build apps for Windows 8 and are more focused on the build as a learning process than the app itself. For this reason not much thought is given to the marketing that needs to go with the app when its been published. There’s lots of information out there to help devs be more business focused and become aware of how to promote apps and make money, to learn from those models and improve them.
Join us for this one day event to learn how Windows Azure can be used in curricula, support research endeavours, and enable student projects. Institution administrators can explore how to use Windows Azure for infrastructural and application needs.
Christopher Ingold Lecture Theatre UCL Chemistry Building 20 Gordon Street WC1 6BT London
Thursday 20 June 2013 from 09:00 to 16:40 (BST) Register here http://azureineducation.eventbrite.co.uk/
8.30 Arrival 9.00 Welcome to UCL 9.10 Welcome to Windows Azure - Rob Frazer Microsoft, Cloud CTO 10.00 Morning Break 10.15 Windows Azure in Academia - Lee Stott Microsoft, Technical Evangelist 11.00 Windows Azure PaaS, IaaS, SaaS – Steve Plank, Microsoft, Azure Technical Evangelist 12.00 Lunch Break (Lunch will not be provided) 13.00 Windows Azure Pop Up Labs - Steve Plank 13.50 The Windows Azure Prime Challenge - Steve Plank 14.00 Windows Azure VM Depot - http://vmdepot.msopentech.com/ 15.00 Afternoon Break 15.15 Windows Azure in Research - Kenji Takeda, Microsoft Research Connections 16.15 Azure Q & A Panel - Microsoft 16.40 Close
Microsoft provides Educator Grants for educators wanting to use Windows Azure in their curricula through Windows Azure academic passes. More info
Need access to Windows Azure outside the classroom? Working on a project on cloud computing? Or maybe your master thesis? More info
Tap into resources offered by Microsoft’s Windows Azure Research Engagement project to take your research to the cloud. More info
Help your students get the technology skills they need to be successful through Microsoft IT Academy. More info
As part of our ongoing commitment to add value to the education community we serve, we are thrilled to be working with Janet to provide additional support and services to their user base.
Janet provides and develops a network infrastructure to support world-class research and education to over 18 million end users and helps academic institutions to better communicate, collaborate and co-operate, globally.
With the Janet network now peered with the our datacentre, both Microsoft and Janet can build on this strong and unique foundation to add additional services that reduce costs and help make the community more competitive.
With the Cloud Services for Education agreement service already helping institutions, such as Goldsmiths, save in excess of £20,000 in legal due diligence, we are excited about the next stage in the evolution of our work with Janet which is focused around Azure.
The press release from Janet below covers these exciting developments in more detail, but in essence, with our joint dedication to the sector, Janet and Microsoft is able to offer improved access to infrastructure and application services such as websites, virtual learning environments and research projects.
A launch event for the strategic agreement, where a formal signing of the agreement will take place, is scheduled for the 21st May at Goldsmiths, University of London, and the full press release from Janet is shown below.
We look forward to sharing additional updates and successes associated with our work with Janet on the blog over the coming weeks and months.
Over 18 million students and staff to benefit from faster, more secure cloud-computing More than 18 million students, staff and researchers at institutions across the UK could start to benefit from a faster and more secure connection when using their institution’s cloud-based IT services, thanks to a new peering arrangement between Microsoft and Janet, the UK’s research and education network. This new agreement enables improved access to infrastructure and application services such as websites, virtual learning environments and research projects. Janet has recently become part of the Jisc group, the UK’s champion for digital technology in research and education. Connecting the networks privately eliminates the need to traverse data over the public internet. This enables a high bandwidth connection for students and staff to use Windows Azure. Bandwidth is managed, ensuring high-speed delivery with no delay or latency. The move to peer the Microsoft Windows Azure data centre to the Janet network comes as part of a new strategic alliance between the two organisations, being signed at Goldsmiths, University of London on Tuesday 21 May (press welcome to attend by prior arrangement). Professor Anne Trefethen, Chief Information Officer, University of Oxford: “In the UK, higher education institutions are fortunate to have high speed network services as provided by Janet. The capability afforded by Janet’s peering with Microsoft’s Azure Cloud with high-bandwidth secure connections creates new opportunities for researchers and the University community as a whole.” Professor of Computing Science at Newcastle University Paul Watson comments: “Cloud computing has the potential to revolutionise research by offering vast compute resources on-demand. At Newcastle University, we already have over £20M of research projects that are supported by the cloud. However, one of the major barriers holding back further cloud adoption is the time it takes to transfer large datasets from the lab to the cloud for analysis. This new link between Janet and the Azure Cloud removes this barrier, and will allow a far greater range of research projects to fully exploit the benefits of cloud computing.” The alliance agreement also means any UK education institution can benefit from standard terms and conditions on Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity software suite Office 365, negotiated by Janet. An early beneficiary of this arrangement is Goldsmiths, which is also one of a select group of institutions responsible for initiating work on the alliance. Basem El-Haddadeh, Director of IT Services at Goldsmiths said: “The work on Office 365 will save the sector considerable time and money in legal due diligence and speed up adoption of Office 365. We’re really pleased with the roll-out at Goldsmiths and our staff and students are already enjoying using the new system. I’m looking forward to the benefits the strategic alliance can bring.” “Through the peering and strategic alliance, we are demonstrating our commitment to UK research and education institutes’ increasing desire to access cloud technologies and we are complementing our world class fibre network with Microsoft’s leading technologies to support the sector,” said Dan Perry, Director of Product and Marketing at Janet. Steve Beswick, Director of Education, Microsoft Ltd said: “We are delighted to be working with Janet to provide additional value-added products and services to the research and education community. We have a long-standing relationship with this sector and are looking forward to more collaborative working with Janet to grow our offering.” END
Over 18 million students and staff to benefit from faster, more secure cloud-computing
More than 18 million students, staff and researchers at institutions across the UK could start to benefit from a faster and more secure connection when using their institution’s cloud-based IT services, thanks to a new peering arrangement between Microsoft and Janet, the UK’s research and education network.
This new agreement enables improved access to infrastructure and application services such as websites, virtual learning environments and research projects. Janet has recently become part of the Jisc group, the UK’s champion for digital technology in research and education.
Connecting the networks privately eliminates the need to traverse data over the public internet. This enables a high bandwidth connection for students and staff to use Windows Azure. Bandwidth is managed, ensuring high-speed delivery with no delay or latency.
The move to peer the Microsoft Windows Azure data centre to the Janet network comes as part of a new strategic alliance between the two organisations, being signed at Goldsmiths, University of London on Tuesday 21 May (press welcome to attend by prior arrangement).
Professor Anne Trefethen, Chief Information Officer, University of Oxford: “In the UK, higher education institutions are fortunate to have high speed network services as provided by Janet. The capability afforded by Janet’s peering with Microsoft’s Azure Cloud with high-bandwidth secure connections creates new opportunities for researchers and the University community as a whole.”
Professor of Computing Science at Newcastle University Paul Watson comments: “Cloud computing has the potential to revolutionise research by offering vast compute resources on-demand. At Newcastle University, we already have over £20M of research projects that are supported by the cloud. However, one of the major barriers holding back further cloud adoption is the time it takes to transfer large datasets from the lab to the cloud for analysis. This new link between Janet and the Azure Cloud removes this barrier, and will allow a far greater range of research projects to fully exploit the benefits of cloud computing.”
The alliance agreement also means any UK education institution can benefit from standard terms and conditions on Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity software suite Office 365, negotiated by Janet.
An early beneficiary of this arrangement is Goldsmiths, which is also one of a select group of institutions responsible for initiating work on the alliance. Basem El-Haddadeh, Director of IT Services at Goldsmiths said: “The work on Office 365 will save the sector considerable time and money in legal due diligence and speed up adoption of Office 365. We’re really pleased with the roll-out at Goldsmiths and our staff and students are already enjoying using the new system. I’m looking forward to the benefits the strategic alliance can bring.”
“Through the peering and strategic alliance, we are demonstrating our commitment to UK research and education institutes’ increasing desire to access cloud technologies and we are complementing our world class fibre network with Microsoft’s leading technologies to support the sector,” said Dan Perry, Director of Product and Marketing at Janet.
Steve Beswick, Director of Education, Microsoft Ltd said: “We are delighted to be working with Janet to provide additional value-added products and services to the research and education community. We have a long-standing relationship with this sector and are looking forward to more collaborative working with Janet to grow our offering.”