18 Mar How to stay connected in times of travel restrictions
As the nation prepares for the inevitable shutdown, we felt this was a good time to highlight some of the tools that you should be looking at to keep your school, college or university functioning as best as possible.
At Academia, we are busy preparing our team for the move to home-based working, ensuring their hardware is functioning, that they have access to various software packages, and that they can communicate freely with colleagues and customers alike.
There are some questions you may be asking yourselves, so we’ve tried to address the main concerns below and give you some guidance on what you need in place.
- Khan Academy offer FREE teaching resources and are ideal for distance learning – Have a look here
- Adobe are offering all customers the ability for staff and students to access FREE licenses they can use from home until May 31st. In addition, Adobe Connect (web conferencing and light VLE solution) is also available FREE of charge for the same period. Find out more here
- Microsoft Teams is a good web conferencing and collaboration tool that can help support distance learning. You can get it FREE in the A1 plan – see here
- See Microsoft’s statement to COVID-19 for education resources they are making available here
- Techsmith are providing customers with FREE access to Snagit and Video review until the end of June, to request access – see here
- Panopto provide a lecture capture system that supports remote learning and can offer features above and beyond standard video conferencing. Find out more here
There is a plethora of learning platforms available which will allow students to carry on as normal. We’re also delighted to mention that Just Enough (part of the Academia Group) have removed charges for their online workshops – you can find out more by visiting https://www.justenoughgroup.org/
Remote Desktop / VDI
If you need to cater for an increase in home workers requiring access to corporate resources there are multiple solutions to explore, it makes sense to maximise additional solutions and expand on these as setting up from scratch can take some time. Below are some established vendors who provide good solutions for education:
- Citrix virtual apps and desktop (formerly Xen App & Xen desktop)
- VMware Horizon
- Microsoft remote desktop
- NoMachine (particularly good at supporting MAC/Linux remote access)
- Sassafras existing customers can provide remote access to applications on fixed devices. For more information click here
Scale device estate with finance – Invest in more mobile devices to enable anytime/anywhere working using accessible funding outside of capital budget. Short term lease/rental options on new and refurb available.
Remote device management
If you now need to support either organisation owned or staff/student owned devices, there are lots of solutions on the market. Here are a couple that are worth a look at:
- Intune – You may have this already as part of your Microsoft agreement and it is a great product for managing mobile devices
- Jamf – Arguably the best tool for managing Apple devices and works nicely in conjunction with Intune, great if you have lots of mobile Apple users!
2FA/MFA may become a requirement to ensure remote users are authenticated securely and this is a great method in achieving this. There are a lot of solutions in this space, some common ones used in education are:
- Duo offer an easy to deploy solution and aimed at education. We’ve recently had a webinar covering their solution for education
- Microsoft may already be included in your existing licenses agreement
Privileged access is another IT challenge in this area and again you may now need to support remote access but not want them accessing everything!
- Privileged access with Beyond Trust are offering free access to their PAM solution for 90 days. Similarly they are making their remote support product free for 90 days too, see here for more
- Sophos are allowing all existing customers to provide licenses to cover staff and student personal devices. Contact us for access to the form
If your existing client devices are suitable and have the right application’s/OS etc, and simply need a secure network connection, then a VPN solution may be what’s best for you. Some key considerations for IT:
- Ensure users have good access to a reliable internet network
- We advise setting up a split tunnel VPN – this allows you to choose what traffic goes through the VPN. Ideally you only want traffic coming through VPN that requires access to internal systems/applications, e.g. not Facebook or YouTube
- Pulse Secure (previously Juniper’s JunOS Pulse) are an established vendor in this space and are currently offering expedited and flexible licensing to facilitate rapid deployment, see here for more information
We continue to remain highly contactable and are ‘Business as usual’. If you have any existing orders with us, we will ensure we are regularly communicating with you. However, should you have any concerns please contact your Account Manager.
Thank you for your support in what is a very challenging time for us all.