Northumbria University Gets Wyse to Sustainable IT

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A major new deployment of energy efficient thin client computers complements campus green-building design features as part of an environmental drive.

As part of an overhaul of its learning and IT environment, Northumbria University has deployed thin client computers across its campus.

The university’s new Newcastle City Centre campus facilities have been designed to provide an improved learning environment for its 30,000 students and more accessible IT provided by 450 thin clients from Wyse Technology.

In planning the new building, the university had to reconcile the environmental impact of heavy IT usage with inherent sustainability requirements, including strict limits on the use of air conditioning in public areas.

In addition to the thin-client deployment of Wyse, the entire south-facing Facade of the existing Northumberland building is covered with solar panels and the city centre campus is set up to harvest rainwater for use in the building. The cooling system used functions by blowing air over cold water.

But a high concentration of conventional PCs would have pumped out too much heat for the natural air-cooling system to deal with. And the thin clients had to be easy to manage remotely and deliver a comparable user experience equivalent, to that of a PC.

“A green IT solution came to mind quite easily because the university was already a user of thin computers,” stated Joe Evans, Northumbria University technical services manager. “These consume a fraction of the electricity compared to a standard PC and generate hardly any heat. In fact each Wyse thin client computer uses a tenth of the power used by a PC and generates less heat than the person using it.”

Northumbria specified Wyse V50 thin client computers running the Linux operating system (OS) with a very simple configuration, so the units would be easier to support. Citrix software publishes the desktop applications to each terminal, including standard Microsoft applications and some specialist statistical software made available via a user’s personal login.

And the Citrix application delivery allows staff and students to also virtually access their personal applications and data offsite, via any PC connected to the internet. At the same time, the Wyse Device Manager software centralises management of every thin client.

The management software checks how each unit is working, alerting the university team to any potentially faulty units, while their simple specification means any thin client can be easily swapped out and is redundant if someone attempts to steal it.