Laying the foundation for learning

QA plans to deploy a training platform supporting touch-screen technology to empower users and enhance management.

As an IT training provider, QA must evolve rapidly and keep ahead of the curve. It has to deliver exceptional training and relevant industry skills in a way that meets the expectations of its target market. Its valuable business data must be protected at all times, regardless of the increasing number of devices that staff and students use to access training material.

Laying the foundation for learning

Learning the way with virtual classroom services

QA is currently working on several transformation projects aimed at strengthening and supporting its IT strategy. One relates to the way it manages and delivers training services, and another is for disaster recovery. As part of its transformation, QA participated in an early adoption program for the Windows 8 and Microsoft® Windows Server® 2012 operating systems running on Dell™ technology. The firm’s goal was to evaluate the Microsoft desktop and server operating systems and get a feel for how the software worked with the latest Dell touch-screen technology.

“As part of our training transformation program, we’re enhancing the ability of our IT team to support client devices remotely,” says Paul Gregory, Principal Technologist at QA. “With Windows 8, Windows Server 2012 and our powerful Dell servers, we get direct access to devices via a virtual private network, improving scalability and management.”

Having the option to deliver classes from a virtual private network environment also helps reduce the complexity and costs of running courses on-site. Gregory says, “We want students to be able to walk into a classroom with the devices they use every day and immediately connect to our training systems. With a virtualized training environment, after students have finished their courses we can follow up on their training by giving them access to tools for an extra week. This offers them a chance to enhance learning by consolidating what they’ve learnt in the classroom.”

Course access through latest touch-screen technology

QA is evaluating different devices running Windows 8 and is confident that Dell touch-screen technology can offer students a superior training experience. “With the Windows 8 interface, our users can log on, click and go,” says Gregory. “It makes the user experience simpler and more consistent, and that’s massively important in a training environment. Simplicity and consistency are enhanced even further by working with a touch-screen interface — for example, using the Dell OptiPlex™ 9010 All-in-One desktop, which is designed specifically for Windows 8.”

Gregory adds, “The user experience in Windows 8 is significantly better. The search feature allows users to start typing directly onto the screen to find file information in any folder. Combining an enhancement such as this with a Dell XPS™ 12 convertible Ultrabook™ will ensure that we offer a new generation of students the modern learning experience they expect.”

Cost-efficient platform for streamlined disaster recovery

A recent outage of a noncritical system prompted the IT team to rethink disaster recovery for mission-critical applications, such as the customer relationship management solution that holds customer information and the portfolio of QA’s products. “Our customer relationship management database holds 1TB of data,” says Gregory. “If there was an outage it would take us around two days to get it running again. The Hyper-V® Replica feature in Windows Server 2012 would provide us with a cost-effective disaster recovery solution if our data center experienced a problem.” Hyper-V Replica enables Hyper-V host machines to replicate themselves at remote locations over a standard IP wide area network connection.

“Dell is helping us design and test Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V and is crucial to managing the early adopter relationship between QA and Microsoft,” says Gregory. “Dell’s relationship ensures we get the information and advice we need promptly.”

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Dell OptiPlex desktops:

Dell XPS Ultrabooks: