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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

    Microsoft licensing changes for hosted and shared services

    • 3 Comments

    imageThe pace of change in licensing - in positive ways for education customers - is speeding up. Hot on the heels of the EES licensing (which is leaving most customers I'm talking to much better off), we've now announced changes to licensing that will make it easier (and cheaper) to license software as you move to the cloud - specifically where partners are hosting an application, or servers, in their own data centres.

    Here's my quick summary of the changes from 1st July:

    • In what we're referring to as 'licence mobility', we're making it much easier when you are going to run software in a hosted data centre, by extending the licensing rights for a bunch of server technologies, so that you can run them on-site, or in a externally hosted shared data centre under the same licensing scheme.
    • The extension is for customers with active Software Assurance (you've automatically got this if you have a Campus, School or EES Agreement)
    • This will cover licensing for:
      •  
        • Microsoft SQL Server
        • Microsoft Exchange Server
        • Microsoft SharePoint Server
        • Microsoft Lync Server
        • Microsoft System Center servers
        • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
    • In addition, we're reducing the pricing and 'management overhead' for licensing Windows Server in hosted scenarios using our SPLA scheme (Services Provider Licensing Agreement), by eliminating use restrictions for conventional licenses, allowing us to remove Outsourcing licences
    • We've also added a Core Infrastructure Suite to SPLA licensing
    • This will help you with your flexible IT strategy - you can decide which of your on-site services you want to run in an off-site, third-party datacentre, without creating a big licensing headache. Tie this with the economies of scale from shared data centres, and things are looking up!
    • There's flexibility that allows you to move your applications to the cloud - and back - every 90 days

    For education, this whole announcement is especially important, as education customers can normally buy licences significantly cheaper than commercial organisations - and this has sometimes caused a hiccup where a partner has been buying licences to run a shared data centre, and has paid full commercial pricing.

    A typical scenario where this change is really helpful is where you are using the Microsoft Dynamics CRM system to manage your student and alumni relationships, and you are hosting it in your existing data centre. It's the ideal service to move to a shared, hosted data centre, as there are definite peaks and troughs in usage - and the server capacity required. In the past, you may have needed different (or additional) licences if you moved this to a shared hosted data centre - and because of this it often presented barriers to doing it.

    There is a fuller description of the changes on our Licensing site, and you can expect to see more detail over the next few months as we get ready to implement these changes from 1st July

    Learn MoreLearn More about the changes

  • Education

    Ribbon Hero 2 - bringing gaming and learning closer

    • 2 Comments

    It just might change the way we think about end-user training - ZD NetIt seems that one of the trendy topics discussed at education conferences these days is the combination of gaming and learning. Most of the time, it’s discussed in the context of the classroom or of students, but a few years ago we applied it to product training, in one of our experimental Office Labs releases, called Ribbon Hero. It was designed to test the effectiveness, feasibility and appeal of delivering Office training in a game-like setting. The heart of Ribbon Hero was a set of challenges that users play right in the Office applications. And to add the competitive element, Ribbon Hero integrates with Facebook so you can share your success (or in my case, failures) with your friends. Ribbon Hero offers to post an update to your Facebook profile when impressive point levels have been reached.

    Ribbon Hero 2

    The team behind Ribbon Hero have gone even further, with Ribbon Hero 2 - incorporating a completely new, cartoon style interface, and a new job for Clippy (the really annoying 'helpful' paperclip from Office 97-2003).

    Ribbon Hero

    Ribbon Hero is a free download, and has got to be a big step up from conventional training ideas and manuals. Having heard Sir Mark Grundy of Shireland Collegiate Academy talk about the way they get their students learning by having a leader table for educational games, I can imagine the same kind of thing happening with this.

    Ribbon Hero screenshotI could tell you more about it - but it is much easier for you to download it, and have a five-minute play, than for me to try and describe how good it is to use. And remind yourself as you're using it, that it's the equivalent of a long dull training course. Imagine how you'd have conventionally learnt what it's teaching. Next time somebody talks about gaming and learning, you can wisely point them towards an example they may not have seen!


    Learn MoreFind out more, and get the free download for Ribbon Hero 2

  • Education

    Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 Review of the Economic Impact

    • 0 Comments

    imageWindows MultiPoint Server 2011 is the latest version of the clever technology that allows you to share one computer between multiple students - saving money on hardware, power and IT management costs. It's an ideal solution where you have banks of fixed computers, and it's coming up to replacement time - or where you need additional computers to supplement access for a 1:1 scheme. The kind of places it's popping up are in computer labs and resource centres/libraries. The beauty of it is that you can still provide plenty of access for your users - each gets their own keyboard, mouse and screen - but you typically only have one computer driving six screens.

    Now Forrester Consulting have done a Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 Review, looking at the Total Economic Impact of it. What they've done is to look at the long-term costs of running two alternative scenarios - individual computers and MultiPoint Server 2011 systems. And their comparisons look at the software, hardware, energy and management costs.

    As they are IT consultants, they use a lot of technical terminology and acronyms to describe the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), Risk-Adjusted ROI, and the 'can't-live-without-it' Nett Present Value (NPV). So if you love numbers, formulae and analysis, then you'll love this report.

    Here's my simple summary of their conclusions:

    • A school using Windows MultiPoint Server will spend 66% less than an alternative one using standalone computers
    • The three-year 'cost per seat' drops from $1,145 to $391 (which brings it down to about $130 a year)
    • Over the three years of use, you'll save 67% on energy, 66% on hardware, 99% on maintenance - and you'll spend 64% more on software.

    Learn MoreRead the full Forrester Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 Review of Economic Impact here

  • Education

    What are the key issues for University CIOs in Australia?

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    CAUDIT logo

    CAUDIT (the Council of Australian University Directors of Information Technology) has just published a really useful list of the key issues for University CIOs and IT Directors within Australia - or, as they describe it, those issues which were keeping them awake at night.

    They are:

    1. Mobility & Personal devices
    2. Cloud Computing Issues
    3. Funding & Resourcing
    4. Data Storage & Management
    5. Business Continuity
    6. IT staff – Re-skilling for the future
    7. Governance & Strategy
    8. Constant Change
    9. Research Support
    10. IT staff – Recruitment & Retention

    If you're working with University CIOs in Australia (or hoping to), what do you do that could help them with managing or solving these issues?

    Learn MoreA summary, including the trends for the last 3 years can be downloaded from their site

  • Education

    What is a Learning Platform?

    • 0 Comments

    Whatever phrase you use - Learning Management System/Learning Gateway/Learning Platform/VLE - the idea of providing an interactive learning environment for students, staff and parents to access 24 hours a day can be difficult to explain in simple terms. Especially to people with different perspectives on what it should be.

    Can I recommend the following video - it's a great cartoon style explanation of a 'learning platform' - which is the UK-centric phrase for a Learning Management System. Featuring my two favourite characters - Mr Spleen, the Geography Teacher, and Miss Print, the school business manager.

    There's a really important message, supported by research, that comes at the end:

      Of course, by itself, the learning platform isn't going to transform anything. It will all be down to how the staff and students use it.  

    It's something to remember when it comes to looking at implementing systems - sometimes the technical features take precedence over the change management planning - and in the case of learning management systems, that can be a million dollar mistake.

  • Education

    Education Partners at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference

    • 0 Comments

    image

    The Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) is in Los Angeles this year, from 10-14th July. If you've been before, then you'll remember that it's one of the key times of the year when we announce new information - and specifically focus on where it fits into our partner's business strategy.

    Last year's WPC had quite a few education specific sessions, including a very deep-dive into the Learning Analytics market, as well as looking at the wider opportunities for developing solutions for today's education market across schools and universities.

    At the moment, you can still get the early-bird rate on the 5-day All Access Pass (which works out at less than US$400 a day) until 25th April.

    I'll get more details on the education content shortly, but I'd definitely recommend registering to the conference, and considering entering yourself into the WPC Awards too. If you're looking for a great way to reward a valuable member of your team, a trip to WPC would definitely be a memorable experience which would deliver significant business benefits back to you too.

    Learn MoreLearn More about the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference

  • Education

    The mindset of a university CIO - Part three - Monash University's IT support shakeup

    • 0 Comments

    If you're involved in Higher Education IT, then there's an article over on CIO.com.au that's worth a read. The story is about the way that Monash University (Australia's largest university, with 60,000 students) has consolidated their IT service requests function, moving from supporting users through 50 different IT teams, to just one. Here's a key section from the article:

     

    “Everything was locally determined and this gave an inefficient delivery model,” Tebbett said of the IT infrastructure prior to the transformation.

    “That started to be recognised in 2007. It got more serious in 2009 when it moved to a shared services view, and that led to the definition of the CIO role which hadn’t existed until that stage.”

    Tebbett said the dispersed nature of the university’s networks was reminiscent of a traditional approach towards technology in the higher education sector and Monash was heading towards a shared services model.

    “The higher education sector is probably one of the last to get real about it,” he said. “We’ve got a number of expectations in the higher education sector. There’s a lot more collaboration going on between disciplines, other industries and other institutions.”

     

    Over the last three days, the CCAEducause conference has been running in Sydney, attended by hundreds of CIOs, IT teams and information specialists from universities across Australia - and what's clear is that there is a shift happening in the role of IT in learning support - and in how the IT team are shifting to a 'business support' mindset - as opposed to a historical 'IT support' position.

    Time to reset your historic perceptions of the IT team's role in Higher Education…

    Learn MoreRead the full article "Monash Uni reduces IT teams after consolidation project"

     

    See also: The Mindset of a University CIO - Part One and Part Two

  • Education

    What does the NSW data centre consolidation project mean for education?

    • 0 Comments

    The New South Wales government have started to implement their data centre reform programme, with education (specifically, the NSW DET - Department of Education and Training) as one of the key drivers. The government in NSW currently runs around 130 data centres, and to goal is to bring that down to just two, over the next decade.

    The NSW CIO has said that will save 473GWh of electricity* over the next 15 years , so there's a cost driver. And it will also drive more scalable and robust capacity.

    What it's likely to mean for education users and partners is that there will be more pressure to either deliver a complete service (eg a cloud-based service) or use the new central government data centres. The days of projects which require discrete networks of servers, with high upfront capital costs, will be limited.

    * If, like me, a GWh doesn't mean much, then here's a comparison - 473GWh is half the total annual electricity consumed in the state of Victoria in 1990.

  • Education

    Cloud migration strategies in Education

    • 0 Comments

    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

    The Australian Education Market by the numbers

    • 0 Comments

    There is no shortage of data on the education marketplace - but finding a summary of the whole market is tricky. So I created one from trawling across the various government sites and statistical bulletins.

    So here's my 'home movie' version of the key numbers for the Australian Education Market, which summarises:

    • Total Australian government spend on education
    • Total number of schools, TAFEs and universities in each state
    • Mix of state, catholic and private schools
    • Total number of students in Australian schools, TAFEs and universities
    • The Top 10 Australia universities, by student size

     

    What other data would be useful to have in here?

    Sources:
    Total education budget - Productivity Commission Report on Education and Training 2010
    TAFE budgets - NCVER Statistics
    Number of schools - ABS
    Number of TAFEs - NCVER
    TAFE staffing - Productivity Commission
    Higher Education staff - DEEWR
    Higher Education students - DEEWR
    Schools by State - ABS
    Higher Education by state - DEEWR
    TAFEs by State - NCVER

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