Around 80 IT Managers of colleges and universities attended last year's IT Forum - a conference dedicated to looking at how Microsoft technologies can be implemented to support business critical IT services.

One of the technologies that most grabbed people's attention was the SoftGrid applications, which allow you to deliver a virtualised application to a desktop, without having to install on every machine. By using application streaming, it means you can avoid having to install on every single machine, and even run incompatible applications at the same time on a single PC. Some education institutions have piloted, and then deployed it during this year (there's even one local authority using it to handle school deployments).

We've now repackaged it as part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimisation Pack (MDOP for short), which is available to Campus and School Agreement customers at pretty low cost.

You may wonder why people are deploying it? Well, this research from IDC, from 132 IT Managers using the package, point out the results that they have seen:

  • 52% agreed that it simplifies desktop administration, automating processes for deploying, patching, updating and terminating applications.
  • 56% agreed that it allows them to rapidly deliver applications to a broad user community whilst reducing installation and testing work.
  • 52% report that is has accelerated application lifecycle management.
  • 65% reported that it had reduced the volume of help desk calls and the length of calls.
  • And..(whisper this carefully)..43% reported that they will be able to reduce the IT resources dedicated to desktop administration.

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When asked to describe the savings, almost half described them as 20%+ a year (one in 10 described them as 60%+). The diagram on the right shows the breakdown.

There's a lot more in the report about the other aspects of MDOP, including Asset Inventory Management and Advanced Group Policy Management, and a nice summary of the different MDOP components. In a nutshell:

  • Microsoft SoftGrid (formerly Softricity SoftGrid)
  • Microsoft Asset Inventory Service (formerly AssetMetrix)
  • Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (formerly Winternals Administrator’s Pak)
  • Microsoft Advanced Group Policy Management (formerly Desktop Standard GPOVault)
  • Microsoft System Center Desktop Error Monitoring (formerly Agentless Exception Monitoring from Ops Manager 2007)

The particular problem it resolves in universities and colleges is how to manage hundreds of incompatible applications, and deploy them to shared computers, IT labs and specific departments. But judging by the report, you'll solve your problems at the same time as those of your service users!

Read the full IDC report and then read more about MDOP