Virtualization taking root on campus


“Rising costs and increased competition are driving change across academic institutions, which now are seeking ways to improve service deliveries,” said Murdock.

Cross-platform computing

Several years ago, the University of Washington’s largest computer lab ran 25 percent Macs and 75 percent PCs, and students were forced to use whatever machines were available. Budget constraints and computer wait times led decision makers to seek a solution that would give students better access to resources.

To ensure that students could access any software programs on whatever platform or system they needed, the Student Technology Fee Committee—a group of students who decide how to allocate student technology fees—decided to fund the purchase of Parallels Desktop for Mac Enterprise Edition.

“All the feedback that we’ve gotten [on Parallels] has been stellar,” said Jacob A. Morris, manager of Learning Technologies for UW Information Technology. “I think the first benefit is flexibility for students, the ability for students to sit down at a machine and be able to make choices.”

Steven W. Bangs, Systems manager in Learning Technologies for UW Information Technology, agreed. “It comes down to the ever-shrinking availability of resources. The Student Technology Fee Committee is always searching for better returns on their investment. Parallels allows us to increase the return on investment, and we’re no longer stuck on one OS on one platform. We can maximize the shrinking base of the sale of hardware, and that addresses the BYOD [challenges] that we’re all facing. This is one elegant way of dealing with new realities.”

The Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac program allows Windows applications to run on a Mac OS X computer simultaneously, offering users the freedom to enjoy the unique benefits of both programs. They can keep all of their stored information in one place without compromising operational speed or having to reboot.

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“It’s a win-win-win on every front: for universities, for students, and for teachers, because now they have the tools they need to be able to accomplish anything, successfully engage and work with anyone wherever they are,” said John Uppendahl, senior director of global communications at Parallels. “It’s not the best of both worlds; it’s the best of all worlds.”

With Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac, Uppendahl believes that students and teachers gain invaluable exposure to the best programs in a single source, and he said this familiarization will benefit them in an increasingly tech-saturated job market. Similarly, IT professionals can consolidate resources, and colleges will save money as a result.