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Strayer University invests in VDI and IGEL endpoints to create a modern, easy to manage and flexible desktop environment for teaching and faculty staff

$6,000 per month saved on field support with a desktop refresh cycle avoided saving around $1.5m

SAN FRANCISCO,October 30, 2018 – IGEL, a world leader in endpoint security and optimization software for the secure enterprise, today announced that Strayer University has completed a major project to implement easy to manage and flexible virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), along with IGEL endpoints, for all teaching, faculty and administrative staff.

Strayer University is replacing ageing PC desktop computers to save on IT and support costs, provide staff remote access for mobile working and enable the University to extend its business hours without opening physical locations.

Founded in 1892, Strayer University is a private university primarily offering adult education to help students get ahead in the jobs market. This includes people going to university for the first time, others completing degrees they started but never finished as well as postgraduate courses. It was one of the first institutions to offer online education in the late 1990s at a time when others dismissed this as valid way to learn.

With 4,200 teaching staff and just under 50,000 students, Strayer University has 75 main sites in North America along with three corporate offices: its headquarters in Washington, DC, with a student support call center in Chantilly, VA, and a global admissions office in Salt Lake City.

Around four years ago, with the USA slowly coming out of the 2008 recession, the University’s finance team acted prudently restraining IT spending until the situation changed.  Scott Behrens, Strayer University’s IT operations manager, explains, “We did an excellent job extending the life of our PC infrastructure but ultimately it was becoming overly expensive and something had to be done. The question was, were we going to do what everyone else always does – constantly replace desktops every 3 or 4 years – or could we be more forward looking. VDI has allowed us to be innovative, plus deliver operational efficiencies and significant ROI.”

Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops have been installed along with 1,425 IGEL UD3 endpoints and 725 Samsung TC-L series all-in-one 24 inch monitors which come with IGEL’s Linux operating system built-in. In addition, servers were updated to offer more processing power to support VDI and enable video streaming to the endpoints.  Around 15 Cisco UCS Data Center servers were purchased.  The IGEL endpoints were sold by Accelera Solutions – an IGEL reseller based in Northern Virginia.  Total investment in the IT infrastructure refresh is around $2 million.

A modern desktop environment delivers true flexibility

The IGEL endpoints connect to Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops running on virtualized servers using VMware located in Strayer University’s primary datacenter in Ashburn, Virginia.  Behrens says, “Today, we’ve pretty much removed every physical computer from our staff network so that when people sit down at their IGEL device in Florida, Texas, North Carolina or wherever, they login and a connection is made to their Windows desktop hosted in Ashburn.”

In terms of applications, all the Strayer University desktops are standardized across its 75 locations.  Staff get a mixture of Microsoft Office, SaaS browser-based applications like Skype, Black Board [a virtual learning environment], CRM and ERP solutions and access to other network resources.

In classrooms where Internet access is needed, a local partition is also used to a deploy a web browser outside Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops, with a customized version of Chrome used on the IGEL endpoints.  This means should there ever be an issue with Citrix or login problem, faculty staff teaching students can still get access to the Web. Behrens says, “The whole project could have failed without this.  Staff were worried that if there was an issue at Ashburn, they wouldn’t be able to use their devices and get Internet access. It has helped overcome resistance to the virtualization project and – looking back – was really key.”

Strayer University is currently running Microsoft Windows 7 but is thinking about transitioning to Windows 10 in 1H 2019. Because of its VDI investment, this change will require no additional cost or major configuration to deliver. Behrens says, “We can flip a switch and provide a Windows 10 image not a Windows 7 one and end-users login as normal.”

During the roll out phase, Strayer University moved quickly transitioning one or two buildings per day.  Contractors were sent to each location where they simply plugged in each IGEL terminal which self-configured based on predefined settings made in the IGEL’s Universal Management Suite (UMS).

UMS is intuitive to use which was a big selling point for Strayer University and one of the key reasons IGEL was selected. Behrens says, “I really like how easy the IGEL OS is to customize.  It was just a quick call with an IGEL engineer and we were up and running with production infrastructure customized to exactly the way I expected the interface to look like for users. The management platform is very persuasive.”

The IT team benefit as very little training or technical expertise is required and staff can easily manage or modify the endpoints – changing configurations in the UMS like printer set up with settings unique to each location.  This is crucial as the university now employs just four full time IT staff – down from 15 – along with help from contractors.

VDI and IGEL terminals delivers clear return on investment (ROI)

In terms of ROI, Strayer University is benefitting in various ways:

  • It expects to skip one desktop refresh cycle saving around $1.5 million in year 4 or 5;
  • It will save on power costs which, with an estate today of around 2,150 devices, is considerable;
  • It will reduce the amount spent on field support saving around $6,000 per month on third party contractors visiting campus locations.With the old PCs, an engineer would be sent to fix a problem with a hard drive, for example, which would then cost $200 to replace.  IGEL’s UD3 endpoints have no moving parts so nothing can fail with devices plug and plug swappable should an issue occur. To date, there have been no failures in the whole estate.  Behrens says, “Things are much more reliable and we don’t need to be in the computer repair business anymore! It means we can change our operational focus to deliver better services to the university rather than just trying to keep things up and running.”
  • Security has been also been improved given the IGEL OS is ‘read only’ – the endpoints cannot be modified or software added locally, with all data kept in the Ashburn datacenter. Firmware updates are easy to schedule and make using the UMS. In addition, USB drives cannot be used.  In the past if someone wanted to work from home, they might email a document to themselves or download it – now there’s no need to do this anymore as data is held centrally.
  • A flexible platform is now in place. If the University decided to add cloud capability for disaster recovery (DR) purposes, for example, IGEL’s endpoint architecture supports this with access delivered to users very quickly.

Jed Ayres, President and CEO, IGEL North America, says, “The use of VDI and IGEL endpoints is providing a cutting edge solution for Strayer University and one which provides a platform for growth as it expands its footprint in North America.  It is a excellent example of how centrally managed desktops deliver so much value to organizations with multiple geographically dispersed sites.”

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About IGEL

IGEL delivers powerful unified endpoint security and optimization software that is revolutionary in its simplicity and purpose-built for the enterprise. The company’s world-leading software products include the IGEL OS™, Universal Desktop Converter™ (UDC), IGEL Cloud Gateway™ (ICG), IGEL UD Pocket™ (UDP) and Universal Management Suite™ (UMS). These solutions enable a more secure, manageable and cost-effective endpoint security and optimization platform across nearly any x86 device. Additionally, IGEL’s German engineered and manufactured thin, zero and all-in-one client solutions deliver the industry’s best warranty (5 years), support (3 years after end of life) and management functionality. IGEL enables enterprises to precisely control all devices running IGEL OS as well as Windows OS from a single dashboard interface. IGEL has offices worldwide and is represented by partners in over 50 countries. For more information on IGEL, visit localhost:9000.

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