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The Hong Kong PolyU: 28,000 students & staff get remote access

Posted by UDS Enterprise Team |

Jones Chung, Associate Director of Information Technology Services:

“We needed to enable remote access to the lab computers and UDS Enterprise made it available with quick turnaround time"

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

  • Name: The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

  • Sector: Education

  • Number of students: 25,827

  • Number of teachers and professors: 1,230

  • PhDs: 620

  • Services and Administrative Staff: 2,620

  • Location: Hong Kong


The Covid-19 pandemic has affected companies and educational organizations worldwide. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) isn’t an exception. With the expansion of the virus, the need to maintain social distance was a must in Hong Kong and all students had to make the shift to eLearning and continue with their lessons from home. The IT Department of PolyU looked for the best solution to provide the students with the same tools they use on the campus. “We needed to enable remote access to software and apps running on the lab computers, and we found that UDS Enterprise could make it available with quick turnaround time, so we opted for this broker”, says Jones Chung, Associate Director of Information Technology Services at PolyU.

Over 500 desktop PCs are connected via UDS Enterprise to allow remote access. This is how students can now use from anywhere software which is really difficult to be installed on their own devices due to hardware requirements, such as AutoCAD, Solidworks, Adobe CC… Proprietary software involved also a handicap since the required licenses were already in use in the university computers, which were inaccessible due to restricted mobility.

Just as students, the university staff had to continue performing their tasks remotely. The IT professionals leveraged their infrastructure with UDS Enterprise to let them connect to their computers so that they could keep on working seamlessly and safely from home.

In this way, the PolyU can make the most of the investments made both in hardware and software at departmental laboratories, which can be used at any time despite the mobility restrictions due to Covid-19.

They have configured two different types of accesses. One for the Central Student Computer Center which is open 24x7 to their 25,827 students for remote learning. And another one for the Departmental Labs, to facilitate remote teaching and learning mainly for departmental or faculty students according to the class timetable. PolyU is considering applying a schedule such that the remote access will be available during non-teaching hours, weekends and holidays once the Covid-19 ends.

The advanced functionalities of UDS Enterprise make all these management tasks really easy. The software includes a calendar scheduler which allows to enable or restrict access to services (virtual desktops, apps, or physical devices) by dates and hours. One can configure different groups of users and choose when each one has permission to use the computers designated for remote access.

Another interesting feature, which in fact was added at the PolyU request, is the ability to control user sessions. When a user logs out, UDS Enterprise frees the machine he was working with so that it can be accessed by another user.


SUCCESSFUL TEST BEFORE LIVE CONFIGURATION

PolyU IT experts discovered UDS Enterprise surfing the Internet. They thoroughly examined all its capabilities and found out that “its features meet our requirements”, comments the Associate Director of Information Technology Services.

One of them was the possibility to integrate with the own federated authentication system of the university. UDS Enterprise is fully compatible with its SAML, so students and staff only have to log in into the same portal they use for other university services to access remotely campus computers. This also helps to improve security, as special certificates can be installed and two-factor authentication enabled.

After checking all its functionalities, they decided to give this software a try. They tested it for several months and when they verified first-hand how it worked and how they could use it to fulfill their specific needs they resolved to implement it for the 2020-2021 academic year.

The PolyU IT team has been in very close contact with the UDS Enterprise team to learn all the alternatives and configuration options they could apply to their infrastructure to ensure the optimal performance of their remote access environment. They are very satisfied with their assistance. “The support service is truly responsive, we give it 4,5 stars out of 5”, they state.

Once that it’s been up and running for some months they can make an objective assessment of the software: “We recommend UDS Enterprise”, they conclude.


REMOTE ACCESS INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Broker: UDS Enterprise

  • Physical machines' manager: UDS Actor

  • Connection protocols: HTML5 and RDP

  • Authenticator: Active Directory

  • Desktop PCs OS: Windows

  • Number of computers remotely accessible: Over 500

  • Number of potential users: Over 28,000



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