I’m happy to bring you exciting news regarding the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the governing body for technical education in India. Announced today, AICTE is deploying Microsoft Live@edu. As the largest customer engagement in Microsoft’s history, AICTE will provide cloud services to over 7 million students and nearly half a million faculty members in more than 10,000 technical colleges and institutes throughout India.
Live@edu will offer students and staff free, hosted communication and collaboration services that will prepare students for the future. The cloud service provides students with access to Outlook Live for email, Office Web Apps, Windows Live Messenger for instant messaging, and Windows Live SkyDrive with its 25 GB of online storage.
Pictured from left to right are Yogesh Kocher, Microsoft Director of Business Development; Dr. Mantha, Chairman AICTE; Sanket Akerkar, GM, Microsoft India; Honorary minister, Mr. Kapil Sibal; Tarun Malik, Microsoft Director of Marketing.
Over Twenty Years of Productivity Experience
AICTE chose the cloud service after a nine month, careful evaluation of solutions from Google, IBM and Microsoft. Over twenty years of productivity expertise made Microsoft stand apart in key, decision-making criteria. Microsoft’s visionary roadmap, with a complete commitment to education across all of the company’s products and programs, made it the choice as the trusted, long-term supplier of cloud services. With over 22 million Live@edu users, Microsoft has extensive experience delivering cloud services for students and is the world’s most widely used productivity service for education. As schools continue to recognize the value of Microsoft cloud solutions, Microsoft prepares students for the workforce today, and will prepare more students looking forward.
Limiting Cost and Complexity
AICTE wanted the ability to deploy a system across geographically distributed locations without adding significantly to the institutions’ IT management costs or complexity. To evaluate the curriculum and quality of education for all technical institutes across the country, AICTE needed to have consistent and timely communication with these colleges, with some located in the remotest districts of India. The convenience and reach of the Microsoft cloud met their objectives, as it did for European University Cyprus. As the university’s Director of MIS, Costas Papaconstantinou stated, “Microsoft Online Services helped us reduce our total cost of ownership for email by 40 percent, thanks to savings in hardware costs and software licensing. With the money that we are saving, we can take advantage of more Microsoft cloud services.“
The Complete Solution
As part of their competitive evaluation, AICTE was impressed by how Live@edu works with tools across the Microsoft product portfolio. Microsoft integrates features which are especially important for students, including OneNote mobile and free, add-in tools for science and technology. Croatia’s Polytechnic of Zagreb also selected Microsoft over Google and echoes AICTE’s sentiment. The school has realized benefits in serving its faculty, staff and 5,000 technical students due to seamless integration of the Microsoft product portfolio with Live@edu. According to Slaven Crnjac, Head of Microsoft and PHP Education, “Students can use SkyDrive and Office Web Apps to easily share and collaborate on documents, and using Outlook Live prepares them to work in one of the many businesses that use Microsoft Outlook. The Live@edu components also work seamlessly with Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Office 2010, which are important applications at the school. When we tested Google Apps, the client integration was not good.”
While some educational institutions have been disappointed in choosing Google cloud services which are not accessible to some students or educators, are poorly integrated, or not reachable through some of the tools their community chooses to use, Live@edu is accessible through popular web browsers for Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems and is easy to set up, administer and manage. Recently, lack of accessibility meant that Columbia University will forego its planned Google Docs implementation. According to ZDNet, “Screen-reader compatibility issues are preventing Google Docs from becoming integrated in the university’s systems.” In contrast, Microsoft has a history of planning accessibility into its offerings.
A Platform Choice
As AICTE moves forward with its Live@edu roll-out, it will help improve technical education and prepare students for career opportunities. Both are important goals. It plans to deploy a technology system that will provide an efficient platform for students and for its institutional framework, to foster efficiency and support broader educational reforms.
AICTE also plans to deploy Office 365 for education when it becomes available later this year. Office 365 for education will provide online access to Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online, serving as the technical infrastructure for member colleges and institutes.
Congratulations, AICTE, you’ve made a fine choice for the present and the future!