With classrooms and research groups relying on digital platforms in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, IU’s cyberinfrastructure is keeping pace with client virtualization service IUanyWare.
IUanyWare is IU’s digital bridge. Need to access a high-speed version of Adobe Indesign on an older laptop? Proctor a remote exam for hundreds of business school students? Or, maintain critical research using sensitive data, from home? IUanyWare gives students and staff virtual access to the IU computers and software that make it all possible.
Stephanie Cox, manager of IUanyWare, says building capacity to support digital learning and working from home was part of IU cyberinfrastructure’s long-term plan, but “we were about three years away from this capacity,” said Cox. The spring semester’s pivot to a digital campus made it essential to reduce that timeline. So, to get all campuses fully online, Cox and her small team worked around the clock over spring break.
Working with an allocation from IU’s Intelligent Infrastructure, IUanyWare now provides an alternative to IU’s virtual private network (VPN). “You just need one computer on the IU network, which you can get through IUanyWare, and you’re in. So once folks realized that, it’s been huge,” said Cox. IUanyWare also deployed a new system called a virtual delivery agent (VDA). This enables IU users to access a computer on campus remotely. “We can push it to any computer plugged into the IU network. And then that resource is now made available as a desktop in IUanyWare,” she continued.
The ability to access campus computers virtually keeps IU’s critical research efforts supporting the global COVID-19 pandemic, on track. Before, researchers working with sensitive data needed to come to campus to access their work via specific IP addresses or computers. “It took a little bit of extra work to satisfy the security requirements, but now the folks who thought they had to be in the office all of the time are successfully working remotely, and I am really proud of that,” said Cox.
Beyond research, IUanyWare has created a virtual campus, giving students access to computers like those in the recently-upgraded computer labs in the Indiana Memorial Union, and soon, in the Media School. With the VDA, “We’re able to use the computers that were just sitting idle on campus with no one on them,” said Cox, who cited the UITS Help Desk and Student Technology Centers as integral to making the virtual campus happen. “It is important to provide these resources to students and researchers during this time,” she continued.
Regardless of what the 2020-2021 school year looks like, the technology and infrastructure is in place, and I feel we are prepared to meet any challenges.
Stephanie Cox, Manager, IUanyWare
Sharing in IU’s commitment to diversity and accessibility in technology, Cox and her team won international recognition for IUanyWare’s innovative assistive technology (AT) desktop environment for the visually impaired at the Citrix conference in Atlanta, Georgia last year. “It’s our job to do everything we can to empower everybody at IU to continue to learn and grow,” said Cox, when receiving the Innovation Award.