Queensland's Griffith University is planning to outsource the management of end user computing for staff and students under an as-a-service model while simultaneously virtualising its IT environment.
The university currently relies on its information services division to support over 15,000 end user devices and associated software.
It is predominantly an on-premise Microsoft shop running Windows 7 on Dell PCs and laptops (an upgrade to Windows 10 is currently in train).
Application virtualisation is only available for students, not staff, and there is no mobile device management for the 1650 iOS and Android devices in use across the university.
Griffith said it was now time to move to a "unified digital workspace" given the convergence of mobile and desktop technologies, and the maturity of the marketplace.
It wants a supplier that can serve as a "strategic partner" to design and run the full lifecycle of its end user environment and deliver it under an as-a-service model, thereby allowing its internal IT team to focus on strategy and design functions.
The overhaul will include the virtualisation of its end user software environment "to the maximum extent that is possible".
Griffith wants the virtualisation environment to be available across all platforms so users have a consistent experience across all devices and can access applications from anywhere at any time, including when they are offline.
It has emphasised that it has no desire to tolerate a "one size fits all" approach for the academic staff, executive staff, general staff, and student computing labs' end users it supports.
"Differing user cohorts have differing needs and working styles," it said in tender documents.
"The unified digital workspace service must have the flexibility to accommodate those differing cohorts whilst maintaining economies of scale that come from standardisation."
Its outsourced arrangement will span just under 15,000 desktops and laptops, 1650 tablets and smartphones, and everything from a virtualised operating environment to application packaging and deployment, IT security, connectivity, app stores, enterprise mobility management, and self-service portals.
End user peripherals and printing are out of scope.
The university is anticipating that it will come across difficulties with the suitability of its existing Active Directory environment in relation to its planned virtual desktop infrastructure deployment, given the software is device-centric rather than user-centric.
Griffith said it expects its supplier to present options for consideration.
It is also planning for cultural and operational challenges in shifting to the new as-a-service model.
Users will need to be brought around to a greater reliance on self-service, and to a controlled environment; at the moment most staff and students have local admin rights on all operating systems.
Similarly, problems could arise with the splitting up of responsibilities between the in-house IT team - which has been fully responsible for the end user environment thus far - and the new supplier.
"It is therefore imperative that both Griffith University and the supplier work together to minimise and overcome these challenges in ways which ensure a harmonious working relationship and seamless service delivery through to the end-user," the university said.
It is expecting to shortlist potential suppliers by February next year, before completing its evaluations in March and starting negotiations with its chosen bidder in June.