Dimension Data scores with education group
INTI aims to enhance student experience while on campus
IT is every tech vendor’s dream to have a satisfied client publicly praise its relationship; and a nightmare if the client chooses to go public with its dissatisfaction.
Certainly, tech giant IBM is living that nightmare now with Japanese firm Bridgestone Tire and Auto-service Corporation bringing a US$600-million lawsuit against in the United States (with IBM vigorously denying the accusations).
Life is a lot calmer for Chong Hoi Ming, managing director of Dimension Data Malaysia & Vietnam, thanks to the smooth planning, implementation and management of a LAN (local area network) for INTI International University and Colleges.
In fact, such is the satisfaction of INTI’s chief financial officer Roberto Antonides (pic) with Dimension Data that even though INTI is in the final year of its RM5-million three-year contract with the vendor, Antonides tells Digital News Asia (DNA) that the relationship will extend at least two more years because of additional scope INTI has added to the original project.
“At this point I see no reason to change [vendors] ... it is doing a very good job and we are happy with Dimension Data,” he says.
For Chong, who likes to say, “One word of praise from a client is worth 100 from me,” the effusive praise from INTI has him on seventh heaven, although he also admits that it is unusual for a client to go public this way.
The relationship between Dimension Data, a large South African based system integrator which was acquired by Japanese technology giant NTT Data in 2010 for US$3.2 billion, began with the former answering a request for proposal (RFP) in 2011.
At that time, INTI had already been taken over by Laureate International Universities, a US-based education group which completed the acquisition in 2009. As it set about improving the systems and processes of INTI to align with its own, the task of shaping the university’s creaking communications and backbone network came into management’s radar in 2011.
As was typical of a business with multiple locations, the network connecting all of them was made of a hodgepodge of equipment from various vendors, with decisions in each INTI campus made in silos without considering the overall business strategy of the group.
Antonides put a stop to that, and used the tech upgrade as an opportunity to ensure that the RFP, “fit the strategy of the university which is to enhance the student experience while at INTI.”
Prior to this network bottlenecks were common and student complaints were getting louder about a network that was not keeping up to their need to be connected all the time.
Acknowledging that in this era, “Connectivity is a given thing,” Antonides shares that INTI realised it needed an infrastructure “or highway if you will” to put all its applications on, for students to have an interactive and around-the-clock experience.
“With over 13,000 students and more than 1,000 courses delivered, we needed a powerful infrastructure and this is where Dimension Data came into the picture. It made sure the investment makes sense, is efficient and fits in with our needs,” says Antonides.
He says that Dimension Data has given INTI a cost-effective solution and the kind of experience it desires for students.
“We believe this allows us to be different in the Malaysian market. Our students enjoy a differentiated experience versus anywhere in Malaysia,” says Antonides confidently.
Part of this differentiated experience is the ability of faculty, through an application called BlackBoard, an enterprise software for the education sector, to share lessons with students before they enter class.
“Students get lectures prior to going to class. Because of this, the class becomes discussion-oriented and hands-on. Now, you can only do this because of IT today,” claims Antonides.
With the revamped network, where everything sits on gigabit internet access of 1GB and a backbone at 10 GBit, the experience of students has been positive. “We have gotten the best bang for the buck,” he proclaims.
According to Dimension Data’s Chong (pic), after the network refresh and WiFi upgrade, it has now moved INTI’s core website to the cloud where it sits on Dimension Data’s Managed Cloud Platform (MCP).
INTI students and administrators will benefit from this cost-effective service and enhanced easy-to-use interface, he claims. MCP is a customisable and secure managed private cloud solution that maintains data sovereignty and administrative control.
“It has been a simple move that takes away a lot of administrative headache from INTI, such as the need to have a firewall. If it needs more compute power, it can easily buy more with just a swipe of the credit card,” claims Chong.
Antonides also likes the benefits in maintenance and expert support INTI enjoys from Dimension Data’s Bangalore service centre. “It all ties in to our business objectives of giving students the best experience when at INTI,” he adds.
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