"By outsourcing as many services as possible, it leaves us much more time to have a dialogue about education."
Working flexibly with all applications at Hogeschool Inholland
Making educational applications available to students and staff securely and regardless of time, place and device. With that wish, InHolland took SURFcumulus Application Delivery into use. A user-friendly application platform is now in place, which also offers management insight into the use of educational applications.
The initiative for SURFcumulus Application Delivery arose during a concluding meeting of the tender of SURFcumulus, the partnership within SURF that focuses primarily on cloud issues. "We wanted to sink our teeth into something new again," says Huub Oude Groen. He is manager of ICT Operations at Inholland, an educational institution with eight college locations and nearly 30,000 students. SURF helped set up this pilot with five institutions with which we jointly started the development of SURFcumulus Application Delivery.
Huub Oude Groen, manager ICT Operations at Inholland
The list subsequently drawn up by the pilot participants included several wishes and priorities. "Including Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and an application portal to enable that," Huub explains. "In 2016, we already noticed that more and more students wanted to use their own laptops for education. That fact formed a great handle for us to start working with an application platform. In collaboration with the four other colleges and universities and SURF, we then organised a European tender and also sought an implementation partner for this product."
Sector-wide solution that takes you further
In Huub's view, the IT departments of educational institutions should not be primarily concerned with delivering and providing basic IT services. Instead, IT should engage much more with education itself. "We no longer purify water ourselves at home to turn it into drinking water either. By outsourcing as many services as possible, we are left with much more time to have a dialogue about education. And to take the time to consider: what do we need? What are our specific wishes? That's what it's all about."
That this is done in the context of SURF is also no coincidence in the case of Inholland. "We think it is important that community money is used effectively and efficiently. That is why we prefer to work on a sector-wide solution rather than one for us alone."
IT-Workz as implementation partner
In the end, IT-Workz won the European tender. What was the deciding factor? "Of course we wanted the highest quality of offer and service. But we also genuinely sensed that we would be completely cared for. IT-Workz went for a partnership with Inholland, says Huub. "And there was also a click on a personal level."
While IT-Workz and Inholland jointly determined which technology was needed, Inholland had IT-Workz automate the installation process of all applications in the meantime. A clean-up within the educational institution's application landscape also took place, says the IT Operations manager. "While going through the applications together with education, you also learn that certain applications are no longer being used, or that newer versions are needed." After the technical check - whether the application works and can access OneDrive, for example - a functional test also took place. One by one, applications thus became available in the application portal. SURFcumulus Application Delivery now provides a well-functioning and user-friendly application portal, with more and more applications becoming available.
Understanding educational application usage
A great feature of the portal is that it provides user data, something that was not possible before. "That is a very big plus," Huub describes. "With that data, we can engage with education again. And find out seasonal influences, for example: why should we make applications that are only used for one semester available for a whole year?" SURFcumulus Application Delivery thus not only enables Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), but also enables the institution to work more efficiently and effectively.
Optimisation and Device as a Service in the (near) future
In the coming term, IT-Workz and Inholland will start working on further technical improvements to the application portal itself. "We are going to replace one of the tools in the portal with a tool we already use within Inholland. This has financial advantages, but also provides more efficiency for our staff and students.
In addition, Huub and Inholland want to move towards Device as a Service (DaaS). "So not only offering the applications, but also equipment, which is already fully equipped and therefore also houses the application portal. We are now discussing this with SURF and other educational institutions." So once again, Inholland University of Applied Sciences is working on a sector-wide solution; after all, the need for DaaS is also sector-wide.