ACN Cover Story August 2013

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ACN Cover Story August 2013

  1. 1. Aligning business and IT strategies in the Middle East for 28 years HEALTHCARE IT: CUTTING EDGE SOLUTIONS IMPROVING HEALTH An ITP Technology Publication August 2013 | Volume 26 Issue 8 Create the cloudcampus Enduser Proving ID Mobile services require more than two-factor authentication Skills certification Certification is essential to prove competence and achievements PLUS Dr Michael Dobe, President and CEO of International Horizons College International Horizons College selects an all-SaaS, no server, set-up to create agile, cost-effective learning environment 40 User Experience Tailoring enterprise applications to bring better usability ERPOPTIMISATION COREAPPLICATION GETSNEWCAPABILITIES 52 BUILD ORBUY? DATACENTRE DECISIONS58 Dubai Financial Market cuts downtime Hosted backup helps DFM to stay online 46
  2. 2. /INTERNATIONALHORIZONSCOLLEGE 40
  3. 3. August 2013 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS 41 /INTERNATIONALHORIZONSCOLLEGE August 2013 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS 41 /INTERNATIONALHORIZONSCOLLEGE WHEN INTERNATIONAL HORIZONS COLLEGE SET UP OPERATIONS IN DUBAI, IT WANTED TO KEEP ITS SYSTEMS SIMPLE YET ENABLE POWERFUL COLLABORATION BETWEEN STUDENTS AND STAFF. IT TURNED TO DU, TO DEVELOP AN EXTENSIVE MANAGED SERVICES PACKAGE, INCLUDING NETWORKS, HARDWARE AND EDUCATION APPLICATIONS IN THE CLOUD BY MARK SUTTON Dr Michael Dobe, Ph.D, president and CEO of International Horizon’s College, a new American Honours College in Dubai. CREATING A CAMPUS IN THE CLOUD
  4. 4. /INTERNATIONALHORIZONSCOLLEGE 42 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS August 2013 etting up green field operations can be an expensive and time consum- ing business for any organisation, but for the education sector, where expenditure ideally is focused on learning rather than support struc- tures, it is even more important that every dollar is spent wisely. With the education sector increasingly moving towards connected classrooms and a much greater degree of technology in teaching however, delivering the modern systems and infrastructure to enable state-of-the-art learning while keeping IT investment under control is a difficult proposition. For Interna- tional Horizons College (IHC), a new American Honours College, based in Dubai, the solution to how to deliver a 21st century learning experience without major investment, was to turn to the cloud. Dr Michael Dobe, President and CEO of IHC, said that the col- lege, which offers two-year Associate of Arts degrees, aims to take a global, collaborative approach to learning, and to give its high- performing students an advanced and open learning environment, to prepare them for study in leading US academic institutions. The college teaches the American curriculum, and has a partnership with another two year college in the US, to provide pathways into the prestigious University of California system. IHC was accred- ited by UAE authorities in December, and took on a small group of students in January. The college will have a full launch in Autumn, with the aim of taking on 50 students. As a ‘start-up’ operation, with no existing infrastructure, IHC could be flexible in terms of IT, but it was very much committed to putting technology, such as videoconferencing at the heart of teach- ing, Dobe explained. Solutions such as high-definition video are a vital part of IHC’s vision of a Global Classroom, which enables face- to-face collaboration between students and faculty in Dubai, and with their counterparts at the partner college in the US. The aim is to expose students to US teaching methods, and foster collabora- tion, rather than to create a distance learning program. “We don’t use it as a distance education platform, we use it as a face-to-face virtual enhancement. We are all about the global class- room, the physical facilities are critical to us,” Dobe said. “We really value face-to-face, whether it is physical or virtual, we value the interaction between students and faculty, and we share the skepti- cism about the quality issues of fully online distance programs. Our model is face-to-face, where the quality of instruction and interac- tion between the faculty and students is at the heart of the experi- ence — you can’t replace that with a blog.” The solution to putting in high end solutions, without the at- tendant costs, support requirements, time to deploy and complex- ity, was to look to managed services. Dobe has previous experience with managed services, both in the region and the US and Europe, and has even worked as a managed service CIO. IHC turned to UAE telco du, to see what could be developed in terms of managed services. Using his past experience with managed solutions, Dobe IHC has a ‘no servers now or in future’ policy, with all applications taken on a SaaS basis, and virtual docs preferred over hard copy.
  5. 5. August 2013 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS 43 /INTERNATIONALHORIZONSCOLLEGE worked with du to develop a wide-ranging deal, which involves du providing connectivity to the campus, hosting applications, and providing the hardware and software systems such as video confer- encing cameras, all delivered in a hosted model. “We have a unique relationship with du, they are a very agile company, they have been very co-operative and very flexible,” Dobe said. “We are getting solutions from du — we don’t focus on the equipment, we focus on what we need the functionality to be. du is able to meet our needs in a way that blends networking, hardware and software, so that it is transparent to us which components we are actually getting from them. The equipment in the classrooms, no one has ever gotten that as part of a bundle [before], we devel- oped that with du as a complete end-to-end solution.” IHC is a ‘campus in the cloud’ both physically, as well as tech- nological. Located on the forty-second floor of the U-Bora Tower in Dubai’s Business Bay, the college benefits from being in a brand new building, with good IT infrastructure and connectivity. With all of the college’s systems in the cloud, a stable, resilient network connection was required, and du provides a two fibre run to IHC to ensure constant availability and no single point of failure. In terms of applications, IHC has committed to an all Software- as-a-Service model, with no in-house coding and no servers on the premises, now or in future. The student information management system is sourced from a cloud provider in the US, and because the UAE Ministry of Educa- tion has based its best practice approaches on US accreditation “WE BELIEVE STRONGLY THAT THE PLACE FOR OUR IT PEOPLE IS WITH STUDENTS AND FACULTY, HELPING THEM WITH THEIR LEARNING, NOT IN THE BACK OFFICE WRITING CUSTOM CODE OR SETTING UP SERVER INFRASTRUCTURE.”
  6. 6. /INTERNATIONALHORIZONSCOLLEGE 44 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS August 2013 bodies, maintenance of course materials and so on, this meant that the system could be used out-of-the-box, costing 10-20% of what an on-premise system would have cost. For the learning and collaboration applications, IHC selected Google Apps for Education, Dobe explained: “We use a number of different systems that are cloud-based that enable collaboration with faculty and students. The baseline that we established was Google apps, we thought the email was a great fit, but it is more than just email. Google Apps for Education includes docs, spread- sheets, videos, groupware, you can have a common discussion group etc. “We use the full range of Google Apps for Education to provide people with the ability to collaborate on the cloud. That means they have a time when they are sitting in the same room, they can be working through the cloud on their laptops, or they could continue that conversation when they are back at their apartments, so a student can collaborate with another student, they can reach out to a faculty member, they are always connected. Remote collaboration is not a substitute for face-to-face, it is a way of extending it, and continuing the conversation even though you are not physically in the same room,” he added. One benefit of the SaaS approach is that, as a relatively small learning establishment, IHC is able to access powerful solutions without having to scale down systems meant for larger organisa- tions. It also has green benefits, Dobe said. “Everything for us is born digital, and we can ad hoc produce the print copies. We have only used three reams of paper on our printer since opening, so we think that’s a win for green computing. It is just more logical, I travel a lot, and I have to have to access to all of the materials, and I can’t just bring it with me. It is an operational KIT LIST Google Apps for Education Polycom RealPresence video solutions Polycom EagleEye Director cameras Polycom RealPresence Desktop 3.0 Blackboard Learning Management System Vaddio Cameras Vaddio whiteboard Squiggle Kit Steelcase media:scape collaboration systems MacBook Pro Google Android Nexus Tablets Samsung S3/S4 smartphones BlueCoat Systems managed video caching services All of IHC’s infrastructure and solutions have been provisioned from du as managed services, saving cost and complexity, says Dobe.
  7. 7. August 2013 ARABIAN COMPUTER NEWS 45 /INTERNATIONALHORIZONSCOLLEGE necessity, an academic benefit, and an environmental benefit too.” The hosted systems also means a much smaller IT staff require- ment — the college has just one IT support person, compared to the 12 that Dobe estimates an inhouse approach would require. The managed services also mean more time for the IT staff to work with students and faculty. “We believe strongly that the place for our IT people is with students and faculty, helping them with their learning, not in the back office writing custom code or setting up server infrastructure - that is just not a good use of higher ed. dollars,” Dobe explained. One fifth of all the courses and lessons are delivered from the partner campus in California, using Blackboard’s Learning Man- agement System, and it is here, as well as in connecting faculty and students to each other, that the Managed Video-as-a-Service (MVaaS) solution that du is hosting plays a vital role. The solution uses Polycom RealPres- ence HDX video systems equipped with Polycom EagleEye Director cameras, Vaddio cameras and interactive white- board solutions in the classrooms, to give very high quality telepresence. The system includes a cloud-based Polycom RealPres- ence Collaboration Server and Polycom RSS recording and streaming software delivered by Polycom local partner FVC and du. The whole systems is integrated and managed by du. IHC also has a Steel- case media:scape collaboration workspace system, for collaborative work groups. The system is used not just for learning, but for faculty meetings and interviewing. Mobility is also a big part of the infrastructure, with all students, faculty and staff being issued with MacBook Pro, with Polycom RealPresence Desktop 3.0 software, to enable remote video confer- encing. The same model of MacBook Pro is used throughout, to simplify adminis- tration and ensure a uniform experience. Students also have Google Android Nexus tablets while staff have Samsung S3 and S4 smartphones to also enable a wide degree of flexibility for mobile connection. Dobe says that in future the college will look at mobile device management solutions, not to close off systems, but to facilitate bet- ter collaboration and interaction. It is part of an open approach to sharing of content and access. “One of the things that has always been a real frustration to faculty, is all of these layers of complex passwords, user names, segregation of access, it has been a long history, the last couple of decades, in higher ed. of blocking and filtering and not allowing people to get access to things,” Dobe said. “We don’t do that — our access is open, the whole model is to keep it open, and allow faculty, staff, students and visitors to use the systems. Where we need to protect our student data we do so, but we want our users to share Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. Higher Education is not about guarding secrets, but rather about broadening the corpus of human knowledge.” “REMOTE COLLABORATION IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR FACE-TO-FACE, IT IS A WAY OF EXTENDING IT, AND CONTINUING THE CONVERSATION EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE NOT PHYSICALLY IN THE SAME ROOM.”

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