Curtin University's chief information officer (CIO), Peter Nikoletatos told the 2010 Gartner Symposium yesterday that the Perth-based institution was an early adopter of new technologies thanks having strong relationships with tier one 'supervendors' instead of smaller, easily acquired IT providers.
Peter Nikoletatos addresses the 2010 Garter Symposium yesterday.(Credit: Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)
Nikoletatos said that building strong vendor relationships is key to deploying strong and engaging IT products that hold the interest of the student body.
"I haven't added one new partner since I came to Curtin, but I've changed the relationships and how we communicate with them. Vendor relationships are critical," he said.
He told ZDNet Australia following his presentation that one of the key strengths of Curtin University's IT strategy is its partnerships, in that teaming up with tier one service providers like VMWare, Telstra, EMC and Cisco allows the university to set technology standards which aren't likely to change due to a merger or acquisition, something which is not always the case for tier two and three providers.
Nikoletatos told delegates that as an early adopter, Curtin prefers to strive towards joint goals as opposed to subscribing to a "master-servant" relationship.
"One of the things about being an early adopter to the cloud, is that everyone wants to share with you the risks associated with the move to the cloud and if you go in isolation, it means all the risks is shouldered by you. That's why you need to say 'if we're going on this journey together, you will share the same risks as we do going forward'," Nikelatatos said.
Curtin recently went public with its decision to adopt Optus' cloud offering, powered by VMware, Cisco and EMC's technology platform, within the university.
Nikoletatos also described Curtin's new IT engagement strategy which strives to get students engaged in courses by using a variety of different technologies such as Apple iPads, Microsoft Surfaces, laptops and wireless networking.
Nikoletatos — who waved around his own iPad during the presentation — said that some of the benefits of the tablet were that it was highly transportable, lightweight, and information could be accessed in seconds. In general, he said, he was seeing a trend towards information and applications being delivered through the web-browser platform. "We're moving away from fat-client applications, the browser will be king in five years' time," he said.
Adelaide University has taken the step of calling it quits with paper textbooks with the institution set to hand out free iPads to students enrolling in a science degree in 2011, claiming the new Apple tablets will revolutionise the way science is taught.
Nikoletatos said Curtin would love to run a similar program, although discussion was needed as to whether the cost of the tablets would be included as part of the fees for the subjects. "If the government wants to provide them for it for free, then I'll take that phone call," he laughed.
The CIO said that Curtin is looking to become a university that can cater for the next-generation of "digital native" students.