Education

New cloud tech helps students work even when there's no room in the computer lab (exclusive)

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Most college students have experienced the frustration of having wait in line for a physical machine at the library or lab, in order to access an application.

Two cloud startups, Numecent and Software2, have teamed up to help universities deploy Microsoft Windows applications on physical machines on-site, and in the cloud.

Students can now access cloud-based applications on their personal laptops at any time.

The new platform, dubbed Application Jukebox, has been used so far by 250,000 students at over 40 UK universities. Software2 cofounder Tony Austwick plans to roll out the technology in the U.S., starting with colleges in Boston, Mass. The company also plans to open an office in the U.S., and hire sales and marketing talent.

Numecent has established quite the reputation for its disruptive cloud tech. In the past year, it has been lauded by reporters and cloud evangelists for its potential to change the entire software industry. The education vertical is relatively new for Numecent, but Software2 has plenty of experience working with school IT administrators.

Chief executive Osman Kent spoke at our recent CloudBeat conference about the software it calls “cloud paging.” Cloud paging instantly puts anything in the cloud, even an entire operating system like Windows. What this means is that software can run in the cloud — with no modifications — and will run as quickly as if it was installed on your desktop PC.

Software2 has been around for about three years, and spun out of Numecent. The UK-based startup focuses on fixing the most challenging IT problems for universities by leveraging cloud paging, and building community forums.

“Students now have access to the software tools they need — and they can access applications from anywhere,” said Kent in a phone interview.

Johnson believes the students who will benefit most from Application Jukebox are the blind and the deaf. The Royal National College for the Blind in London was one of the earliest adopters. Students with disabilities can now download assistive learning software on their personal computers, and use any application. They no longer have to travel to campus to access one or two or three designated machines.

“The university can deploy screen reading software, magnifying software, and more, straight to any laptop,” said Austwick.

Kingston University was the first customer to pilot the Application Jukebox technology. Michael Phillips, a faculty-member in the science and technology department, was impressed with the technology. He said that Jukebox expedited deployment rates, and made it possible to reduce imaging times from 12 hours to 45 minutes.

“All this whilst at the same time making available specialist software, (previously only available in specific areas on-premise) on all university PCs for our students, hence increasing availability to 24/7,” said Phillips.

Software2 is a self-funded company, and the founders do not have any immediate plans to raise venture financing.

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