IT developing virtual labs, improved Internet

Katherine Wade

Now that WKU’s new website has launched, Information Technology is moving forward on a number of projects.

Some of IT’s major goals for the semester include installing Windows 7, creating virtual computing labs and improving Internet services.

Bob Owen, vice president of Information Technology, said the benefits of these projects aren’t always obvious to students, but they increase efficiency in ways that directly helps students.

By next fall, IT hopes to have Windows 7, the latest operating system released by Microsoft, installed on all the computers on campus.

“We’re looking forward to getting that out this summer so students can begin to enjoy it,” Owen said.

Another new technology IT hopes to set up soon is Altiris, which will allow programs to be remotely installed to multiple computers at once, instead of physically visiting and updating each machine.

Similar to the Altiris program, IT is working on a plan to convert to virtual computing labs across campus. Owen said this would mean students could go to a computer lab and pull up the software from any other lab’s computers.

“It would be just like you were sitting in that lab,” he said.

Owen said this would be beneficial to students who, for example, need to access a program in the math lab but can’t because the lab is closed. With the new technology, they could reach that software from the one in Mass Media and Technology Hall, which is a 24-hour lab.

John Bowers, director of Academic Technology, said the virtual computing lab project is very early in the planning stage and may or may not be adopted on a wider scale.

“It is certainly a promising technology, and we want to know more about it,” he said.

Bowers said WKU is evaluating this technology in partnership with Dell.

IT has several projects unfolding to improve the campus’ wireless Internet services.

Owen said there is now one “pipe” bringing in all the university’s Internet, and WKU is hoping to purchase a backup before the end of the year. He said it would mean increased reliability if the network were to experience problems.

IT is also planning to set up WKU Secure, a service that will allow students who log onto the WKU Wireless network to remain logged in for as long as three months.

“I think students will really appreciate that,” Owen said. “And it is super easy to register your device.”

Edwin Craft, director of Communication Technology, said WKU Secure will also create a safer environment for Internet users on campus.

“It will enhance the security of our network,” he said. “When we first implemented WKU Wireless, security on laptops was much more difficult because of the technology but now technology has advanced.”

Craft said the new service would not only benefit laptop users but also users with new devices such as iPhones and iPads.

WKU Secure is expected to launch in the next two months.