Fontys Hogescholen is the largest provider of higher education in the Netherlands. It offers full and part-time courses on almost every educational topic and operates over 40 separate schools across the Netherlands.
Fontys Hogescholen needed to simplify its IT infrastructure so that it could effectively service more than 57,000 user accounts, including 37,000 students and 4,500 employees using some 9,000 workstations. To do this, Fontys IT needed to implement a centralised management of applications based on Microsoft Softgrid and Citrix Presentation Server. By centralising IT, Fontys wanted to improve end-user support and to ensure that the deployment of new and updated educational programs was hassle free.
Fontys were faced with two problems, an increasing number of users and an increasing number of applications. At the time Fontys was managing 1,200 applications and over 9,000 workstations and this was becoming increasingly difficult to support. The school wanted to offer a secure and stable environment and improve manageability.
Moreover, the Institute wanted to be able to provide secure access in one of its large campus areas and was also keen to offer this in 33 of its other locations. Students need to be able to access their applications from anywhere, in the classrooms on any public campus, or even offsite. A security compromise within the Institute could affect the whole IT system and Fontys wanted to ensure that they, their professors and over 37,000 students, could access applications securely from their workplaces or private laptops.
Fontys also needed an IT system that could foster innovation and growth. The Institute required a flexible infrastructure that could be easily managed to reflect evolving business needs.
Fontys Hogescholen chose RES PowerFuse for its access control, security and configuration management features. This ensured the stability of the Citrix environment, on which the central management of applications and improved security depended. RES PowerFuse also improved management functionality by creating better reports on user activities and by enabling more efficient use of applications.
Rens van der Vorst, CTO at Fontys was pleased with the ease with which RES PowerFuse can be combined with the other server based computing applications. Having tested several alternatives he said it took Fontys less than a month to compare and decide on RES Software solutions and the other applications. "This combination is ideal. RES PowerFuse has systems management nailed down."
In the summer of 2005, Fontys Hogescholen deployed the RES PowerFuse product, using Citrix Presentation Server, to manage its entire environment. The implementation was done by PQR, RES Software Platinum Partner, who helped Fontys with specific knowledge and implementation support for RES PowerFuse. Following the conclusion of the project implementation, Van der Vorst said that the new infrastructure, including storage, all of the desktops and two completely new data centres are now available to all users.
Having all functionality available at all times is very important in a server based computing environment. Commenting on such importance Van der Vorst said: "Our systems services over 57,000 users. You can imagine how many changes we make to the system every day. That is not just adding or removing users, but also changing applications, tweaking settings and allowing or changing access. Combining RES PowerFuse with Citrix technology has allowed us to manage this simply.
"RES PowerFuse offers the possibility for all Fontys Hogescholen's users to have access to optimal and fast functional applications through its CPU Shield and Memory Shield."
The security this offers is essential in an environment where access to Citrix Presentation Server applications is available for those who are working both "on" as well as "off" campus. With RES PowerFuse's "Network Location Sensing" we make sure that only trusted and enabled applications will be executed. "Since we started using RES PowerFuse we have not needed to reboot the Citrix farm, nor experienced any crashes."
The most immediate benefit seen by Fontys Hogescholen was a dramatic fall in the cost of IT maintenance which fell by 50 per cent for each workstation. RES PowerFuse has helped Fontys Hogescholen create a stable yet dynamic infrastructure enabling them to maintain applications efficiently while offering individual users far greater flexibility than before.
The implementation of this solution has been so successful that Fontys Hogescholen is now extending the roll out of RES PowerFuse. Van der Vorst explains: "There is a huge difference in size between the scope for which we initially tested RES Software and are now using it. RES Software is making the use of Citrix and Microsoft Softricity a breeze."
The infrastructure has been built up in a modular way so that improvements can be applied without delays. The Institute hopes that extending the virtual nature of the IT infrastructure will build on the great benefits delivered already. Van der Vorst concludes: "RES PowerFuse is now a strategic solution for Fontys and has transformed our IT offering. Administrators are able to maintain a central deployment of applications and improve security both on and off campus."