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Nutanix Puts Remote Users In the Frame at Scottish University of the Year

Robert Gordon University Deploys Nutanix Xi Frame To Extend Reach Of End User Computing Infrastructure to Demanding Remote Super Users

Nutanix, a leader in private cloud, hybrid and multicloud computing has announced that Aberdeen based Robert Gordon University has deployed Nutanix Xi Frame to complement and extend its existing on-campus End User Computing (EUC) solution to support demanding researchers in Schools of Architecture and Engineering plus students on the Scottish Graduate Apprenticeship (GA) scheme studying remotely whilst working.

Although happy with the University’s on-premise EUC technology, End User Computing Team Leader Timon Watson and his team had reservations when it came to extending access to remote teaching and learning resources beyond the shared desktops provided in on-campus IT Labs and libraries.

“Traditional EUC solutions have high barriers to entry particularly when it comes to supporting graphically intense workloads,” he explains. “Not just the need for clients on end user devices but the infrastructure required to support advanced 3D features and preserve settings between sessions and across devices. Getting the software needed installed and working can be hard. Managing it and troubleshooting problems remotely when they arise harder still and extremely time consuming even for fully trained staff.”

As an existing Nutanix customer, however, it wasn’t long before the team at Robert Gordon University was introduced to Xi Frame, which as a Desktop as a Service (DaaS) solution was suggested as a more suitable and easier to manage alternative for this particular project.

“I’ll admit we were sceptical,” said Watson, “but the more we spoke to other customers and tried it for ourselves the more we came to see Xi Frame as a perfect fit for this particular cohort of remote users. No need for client software – just a browser – no plug-ins or infrastructure changes and everything managed through a single console instead of 6 or 7 as with our existing solution. It was staggering how little effort was needed.”

Xi Frame itself can be hosted in the cloud or, as with Robert Gordon University, on-premise using Nutanix HCI software. Following a hiatus due to the UK-wide COVID-19 lockdown, therefore, setup of both a Nutanix cluster and the Xi Frame solution was begun in earnest in late 2020 and completed in just days by team members with no prior experience of either Xi Frame or its management.

Watson and the team are extremely pleased with the outcome, particularly the absence of support calls following deployment.

“As power users of applications like AutoCAD and Revit, the School of Architecture was already our most demanding cohort when it came to on-premise support,” he commented. “I don’t think we’ve had a single call since moving them onto Frame.”

In the wake of the pandemic, RGU is also having to rethink its wider EUC policy and move away from requiring students to use on-premise desktops towards supporting remote access from a variety of devices. In the short term, its existing solution has been adapted to meet this wider remote teaching and learning requirement but, following successful deployment here, further use of Xi Frame is also being considered. Moreover, Watson is keen to take advantage of other Nutanix tools, like those in Nutanix Calm, an application-centric automation, orchestration and lifecycle management solution, to help streamline wider IT management and support processes.

“As well as its simplicity, one of the undoubted advantages of Nutanix Xi Frame is its flexibility. Not only can it be deployed on-premise or the cloud, but crucially here alongside other EUC solutions,” commented Dom Poloniecki, General Manager, Sales, at Nutanix, Western Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. He added: “An ability adroitly exploited by RGU to fill a gap in its EUC strategy without the disruption of switching platforms and starting again from scratch. We’re pleased Xi Frame lived up to expectation at Robert Gordon University and look forward to working with the team to further enhance its EUC solution moving forward.”