Tucked away in Cullowhee, North Carolina, near the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains, Western Carolina University (WCU) is the westernmost institute in the University of North Carolina system. With more than 10,800 students, WCU provides more than 120 undergraduate majors and concentrations and more than 35 graduate programs.

WCU was the first campus in the University of North Carolina system to require its students to bring a computer with them to school. For some time, students have been utilizing a variety of devices: from desktop and laptop computers to tablets and smartphones. The university needed a way to provide students access to applications and data no matter what kind of device they have or whether they’re located on or off campus.

Tasked with providing a consistent, secure computing environment across the entire university population, WCU turned to VMware and its digital workspace solutions. Today, every student and faculty member has access to a virtual desktop, allowing them to work whenever and wherever is most convenient, from any device.

Good for Distance Ed

The vast majority of university-provided applications are available in one place through a common portal, requiring only one login to access apps such as Microsoft 365 or specialized programs for academics. Access to apps and data is just as seamless off campus as it is on campus.

As such, WCU has been able to level the playing field between on-campus and distance education students.

Virtual desktops are customized for individual students based on their majors or what classes they are taking, and virtualization has made the software deployment process much faster and easier.

WCU’s digital workspace solution creates a customized user experience with features like dynamic personalization management. The feature adds additional network drives and printers based on a student’s customized user group and environmental settings, such as location.

(Next page: Digital workspace provides relief for IT; next-gen tech)

About the Author:

Sara D. Smith is a Client Technology manager for Western Carolina University.

Sumit Dhawan is a senior vice-president and general manager of the End-User Computing team at VMware. The VMware Workspace ONE solution integrates application and access management, unified endpoint management, and virtual application delivery to help organizations evolve silo-ed cloud and mobile investments, enabling all employees, devices and things across the organization to accelerate their digital transformation journey with a platform-based approach.


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