Europe’s largest Arts uni halves support calls

The University of the Arts London (UAL) has successfully rebuilt its managed desktop infrastructure to link 21 sites, improving application performance and user satisfaction levels.

The organisation first invested in provisioning Microsoft Windows 2000 managed desktops to its staff in 2003 using Citrix Presentation Server 3.0.

But, as it continued to grow in terms of both user numbers and sites, it faced new IT challenges, in particular with printing from individual terminals as well as slow logins and application performance.

UAL turned to its original Citrix implementation partner, Centralis, to build a new Citrix XenApp 4.5 and Windows 2003 proof-of-concept environment to deliver and maintain applications across each site.

The successful trial for areas including finance, registry and senior management led to a full rollout across all departments last summer.

Implementation took place over seven days in a staggered roll out with one Citrix farm updated each night, with a total of six farms being upgraded and one new farm provisioned. At present, there are seven Citrix Farms supporting UAL staff and 21,000 students.

"Our aim is always to streamline and improve our IT provisions for staff and students across the campus," said Kevin Garner, UAL head of technical services.

He said the university had seen improvements in performance and reduced support calls, particularly in the delivery of some of its most widely used applications.

"Before we embarked on the project, we were receiving an average of 192 support calls a month from users particularly related to printing or application issues, Garner added.

"Since July, this has gone down to 87 and we are even finding in some instances improved performance on the Citrix platform over individual PCs."

The University is now working with Centralis to implement Citrix NetScaler to allow access to applications and servers from anywhere via a secure login.

"We have received extremely positive feedback from our users about the new solution, which greatly improved their working environment and its seamless deployment. This type of positive feedback helps to justify and support similar projects," said Garner.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.