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Making IT invisible

Education IT should be invisible argues Lenovo Director of Enterprise and Public Sector Steve Kendall-Smith, but how can it be done?

Posted by Rebecca Paddick | March 17, 2015 | Teaching

Delivering and maintaining always-on information access, while making sure that the work of IT managers goes unnoticed – is it possible? It’s a question that increases in importance with the size of the institution, and it’s my job to make sure that Lenovo supports IT staff in getting as close as they can.

The first question is: What does invisible IT look like? I’m reminded of the Transport for London campaign ‘Do The Test’ a.k.a. ‘Did you see the moonwalking bear?’ Find the advert on YouTube and you’ll soon see what I mean. In more literal terms, what I’m talking about is the kind of efficiency that allows users to remain blissfully unaware of how complex the job of an IT manager can be.

How can it be done? Well, there are barriers between the ambition and the reality. And the obstacles faced in HE are more akin to those of a large enterprise than those of a school. In both enterprises and higher education IT needs to serve a broad, disparate user-base in multiple locations, perhaps even different cities.

However, there’s an obvious difference in the size of the team and the budget that HE IT staff are working with. This is the most significant barrier to invisible IT.

Why? Because it impedes long-term strategy. With a small team and a smaller budget it is difficult to get beyond day-to-day fire-fighting. So one battle is reducing the number of fires. That’s why it’s vital that IT is reliable.

In HE it also needs to represent a long-term investment that can be adapted over time – not the recurring cost of the necessity to rip and replace every three years. This thought led us to the ThinkCentre Tiny-in-One, an all-in-one PC that works as an external monitor – perfect for study rooms and open access areas. The clever bit is that you can independently refresh the computer unit and the display, taking into account the different lifecycles of each.

Another battle is simplifying day-to-day management and deployments, which actually represent 80% of the total cost of ownership of hardware. Acquisition makes up just 20%.

One way to reduce the daily workload is by managing as much as possible remotely – reducing desk side service calls. Intel® vPro™ is one of many technologies that facilitate this, and it’s found across the Lenovo ‘Think’ product range. With vPro™ it’s possible to manage a computer even if it is turned off or if the operating system has failed.

So, back to my initial question – is invisible IT possible? We think yes. That’s why Lenovo Education solutions are designed with each of these unique challenges in mind. We’re proud to say that Higher Education is currently our fastest growing business segment. In fact, we’re currently working with more
than half of the HE institutions in the UK.That comes from listening to the people who know higher education IT better than anybody else – people like you.

If you’d like to help us learn more, and discover what Lenovo can do for you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by calling the Education sales team on 01256 741 661.

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