Neil Jackson, Microsoft Asia-Pacific Education Director
In a joint statement issued to the press Thursday (April 12, 2012), the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE, an extension of India's Ministry of Human Resource Development) and Microsoft Corp. announced the deployment of Microsoft Live@edu in the course of the next three months across more than 10,000 technical colleges and institutes in India.
Essentially, "the software deployment will expand students' access to high-quality technical education and collaboration, and help prepare them for career opportunities in the technology industry," said Neil Jackson, Microsoft Asia-Pacific Education Director, who was on hand to comment on the announcement. It is all the more significant for two main reasons, he added.
"More than 7 million students and nearly half a million faculty members will have access to the Live@edu hosted service, including email, enterprise-class tools, and document sharing and storage," said Jackson, who then went on to talk about the future deployment opportunities that moving onto Live@edu enables. "Live@edu is the first step in AICTE's deployment of Microsoft cloud computing for education. AICTE also plans to deploy Office 365 for education when it becomes available later this year, providing online access to Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online as the technical infrastructure to support the solution at member colleges and institutes."
This latest deployment is also the largest cloud deployment for Microsoft to date, Jackson told us. Boasting of 7.5 million users (7 million students and 500,000 members of faculty), it is clearly bigger than a 700,000-user deployment by the University of Kentucky and a 135,000-user one by the Contra Costa Community College District in the US, and a 400-user one by the European University Cyprus.
The AICTE-which certifies and manages technical colleges and institutes in India-had reviewed solutions from a range of leading vendors, including Microsoft, IBM and Google, in its search for the most efficient and cost-effective means to deliver "consistent and timely communication" between its offices and different colleges and institutes, "some of which are located in the remotest districts of India," said the governing body's spokesperson. "The AICTE and Ministry [of Human Resource Development] wanted to deploy a technology system that would provide an efficient platform for students and the institutional framework and would foster efficiency and support broader educational reforms."
After review, the AICTE opted for the Live@edu, no-cost hosted platform for student communication and collaboration. According to its spokesperson, the AICTE was persuaded by "Microsoft's comprehensive commitment to education across all the company's products and programmes, as well as the system's seamless interoperation with the entire Microsoft product portfolio."
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