Some universities are known for their on-campus experience. From attending lectures and studying in the library to drinking beers in the uni bar, this can be a core part of the student experience and help attract future students and employees. On-campus learning is a major part of Australian National University’s vision for its more than 20,000 students. But as a world-leading higher education provider, just how could it translate this to an online, virtual learning environment when COVID-19 restrictions hit?

When stage three lockdown measures came into place in March 2020, in the middle of a semester, the University identified that transitioning students, staff and lecturers to a remote learning platform needed to be a priority. The key challenge, but also absolute requirement, was to do this and deliver the equivalent experience as on campus learning. Security was also a major component with the University needing to meet robust privacy and security requirements.

Based on their reputation for delivering highly secure sovereign cloud services, ANU sought out AUCloud to shape their online solution. With a focus on business continuity, time was of the essence.

Leveraging AUCloud’s scalable infrastructure and agile development methods, an online learning solution, meeting the University’s brief, was delivered in under a week.

Solutions like this are never just about technology – so what makes this exercise more impressive is that it was achieved quickly with a small, interdisciplinary team consisting of less than 15 business and technology specialists.

ANU’s virtual campus was ‘stood up’, using the AUCloud Virtual Desktop Infrastructure as a Service (VDIaaS), based on VMware’s Horizon 7 application. Known within the University as the ‘Virtual Information Commons’, it provided the capability for ANU students, including international students, staff and lecturers, to access some 120 learning applications remotely. 

Change can be hard – especially if needs to happen in under a week. To support those using the new virtual desktop, AUCloud worked with Australian business Insitec to expand the ANU help desk service to deliver a specialised helpline, as well as email support and a user guide, to troubleshoot any issues.

And it worked and is growing. More than 20,000 students, staff and lecturers now have the ability to return to campus – albeit remotely. While you can’t get a beer from the uni bar on there (just yet), the experience has clearly demonstrated the power of technology to rapidly pivot a business model to meet a very specific – even unforeseen – need.

To learn more about how AUCloud supported ANU’s remote learning platform, visit here. If you’re interested in adopting virtual desktop access please contact us at or call on 1800 282 568.

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