Over the last 18 months, the atmosphere in the computer rooms across RMIT\u2019s Melbourne campuses has completely changed.\n \n\u201cPeople are still going into the labs but where you might have had 20 people in a lab because there were only 20 computers in there, today you might have 30 people in there because they\u2019re using the facilities to collaborate. They\u2019re being used for workspaces,\u201d explains Sinan Erbay, the university\u2019s director of technology, operations.\n \nMost of the computer labs on campus are open between 8.30 and 5.30 each day. At exam time they quickly got booked out leaving the university\u2019s 80,000 Melbourne based students \u201chaving to compete for resources\u201d.\n \nThat\u2019s now changed following a major virtual desktop infrastructure project, which is being used by around 30,000 students on a day to day basis.\n \n\u201cImplementing such a solution has really given the power back to the student,\u201d Erbay says.\n \nVirtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is when a user desktop is run inside a virtual machine that lives on a server in a datacenter, be it on premise or in the cloud.\n \nRMIT did have a VDI solution, but it only offered around 20 applications. It was also struggling to meet the fluctuating demand from users, at different points in the semester.\n \nIn 2017, the university\u2019s tech team designed a new web-based service called myDesktop, built on AWS and leveraging Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops.\n \nFrom IT\u2019s point of view, the roll-out has hugely simplified the management of end user devices.\n \n\u201cYou\u2019re not having to standardise on a particular operating system, and it reduces the time taken to deploy applications across your user community,\u201d Erbay says.\n \nThe team also utilised Citrix\u2019s NetScaler \u2013 the company\u2019s web and application delivery controller.\n \nIt gives them the \u201cflexibility to be able to burst into the cloud\u201d Erbay says, when demand on the university\u2019s on-premise servers gets too much.\n \n\u201cIt\u2019s dealing with the peaks. The unplanned capacity increases were quite constrictive. It\u2019s given the elasticity of cloud based computing and that\u2019s really driven the success of the platform being able to service those numbers on demand,\u201d Erbay says.\n \nFor students and staff, the service boasts access to around 700 applications \u201cso the sheer choice is there,\u201d explains Erbay, \u201ceven more complex applications that require high graphical computational power are also being offered.\u201d\n \nNo caption\nThere are only a few compute intensive applications that still need to be installed locally, while another 200 applications are going to be added to the service in the coming months.\n\u201cThe learning environment is really moving away from being nine to five to a 24\/7 learning environment, where students have the choice to be able to interact and learn anytime, anywhere and with any device,\u201d Erbay said.\n \nStaff and students can also use any device they wish.\n \n\u201cGiving that flexibility back to students to be able to learn in their time and at their own pace is a significant win ultimately for the students,\u201d Erbay added.\n \nThe step up in user numbers from the old VDI solution has been staggering, Erbay says.\n \n\u201cNowhere near! What was a surprise to us was the ramp up of the service. Provide a great service and solution to the student community as well as staff and those numbers over the last 18 months have risen significantly. We were in the few thousand, definitely not double digit thousands,\u201d he said.\n \nDaily usage is now in excess of 30,000 students.\n \n\u201cRMIT has demonstrated a very progressive approach in their use of public cloud to provide a highly scalable and elastic platform for delivering student services. This collaboration is a true testament to the amount of flexibility cloud services provides to end users,\u201d said Safi Obeidullah, director, sales engineering,CitrixANZ.