University of Warwick a Centrix Software user profile

Getting a handle on how end-users are really using software.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

I had an opportunity to communicate with Malcolm Days, the head of technical services at Warwick University. Warwick University is deploying tools from Centrix Software

Please introduce yourself and your organization

I am Malcolm Days and I manage the delivery of technical services for the central IT department at the University of Warwick. Warwick is consistently ranked as one of the UK's top ten universities. Warwick provides an extremely high quality teaching and learning environment that is valued, and highly sought after, by both students and staff. Warwick is already committed to further enhancements of that environment and plans to invest around £150 million in the campus infrastructure between now and 2015.

What were you doing that needed this type of technology?

One aspect of our service is the provision of computer work areas for students. This consists of hundreds of PCs spread across multiple locations on our campus. Each PC has access to a large variety of applications. It was almost impossible for us to assess how the applications actually got used. We had lots of questions we would like to answer such as, are all the applications still required? Are some applications only used in particular locations? We had to guess at the answers.

What products did you consider before making a selection?

We looked at a number of the usual suspects for software auditing and they would all produce a list of the applications that were installed on the PCs. There were various approaches to presenting the data, but essentially they would all give you the same list. That's fine if all you want to do is check you have bought enough licenses, but it doesn't tell you a great deal more.

Why did you select this product?

Centrix Workspace iQ tells us when the applications have actually been used. That is the key feature for me. I can get far more insight into the demands that are being placed on our work areas.

What tangible benefits have you received through the use of this product?

We have had the immediate benefit of being able to check that we have opted for the most cost effective licensing model for each of the applications. That has already revealed some potential savings. But for the University, the work areas represent a significant investment in space and equipment, so Workspace iQ lets us work out if we have got that investment right. It helps answer questions such as:

  • Should we put more powerful equipment in particular locations?
  • Are students using applications which would work well in a virtual environment?
  • Do our students prefer to use complex software in the smaller, quieter work areas?
We are now in a position to refine the service and to identify trends over time to get the most out of our future investment.

What advice would you offer others?

There is no point in collecting data just because you can, although sometimes it is very tempting. You should have a clear idea about what you are aiming to find out and therefore what data you require. However in any complex organisation, it can be revealing to just browse through the reports occasionally and see if there are any trends you can't explain. The way that our students make use of IT continues to evolve rapidly. That is a good thing, a university environment is meant to encourage new ideas and IT has to support that.

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