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5 Key Trends in Educational Use of Microsoft Azure

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With a rapid shift to blended education and both synchronous and asynchronous remote learning, we have seen a surge in demand for AMD-powered Microsoft Azure NVv4 instances within education. These virtual machines are specified with 2nd Gen AMD EPYCTM CPUs and AMD RadeonTM Instinct GPUs to economically support the typical graphical challenges of digitized curriculum delivery.

We thought we’d share some usage trends and needs emerging within our educational Azure based users.


Increase in Learning Management System (LMS) Usage

More educational users are adopting scalable Learning Management Systems (LMS) to deliver digitised curricula for asynchronous and blended learning.  Key applications include Moodle, Canvas, Blackboard, D2L (BrightSpace) or Sakai. Whilst many educational institutions had well-established LMS deployments in practise these were often supplemental to in-classroom teaching, with increased reliance and load on servers, Azure cloud infrastructure is an increasingly appealing option to expand server capacity and also ensure high-availability. The excellent PhilOnEdTech analysis site provides particular insight into how COVID-19 has increased the usage of products such as Canvas an...


Increasing Demand for Student Laptops - including Chromebooks

Whilst thin-clients are popular in many enterprises, we are finding that in education the laptop / clamshell form factor remains the most popular end-point for educators. Unlike many suppliers AMD provides both the CPU and GPU server technology used by VMs in the data centre and the CPU and GPU technologies within consumer grade laptops, allowing us to optimise the end-to-end delivery of applications and graphical content.

Gartner have recently reported that “Chromebook shipments grew by approximately 90% in the third quarter of 2020, compared to a year ago. This demand was driven by distance learning due to the pandemic, especially in the U.S. education market. Including Chromebooks, the total worldwide PC market grew around 9% year over year, with Chromebooks representing about 11% of the combined PC/Chromebook market”. We are certainly seeing strong demand for both AMD based Chromebooks (details) as well as our consumer and enterprise laptops (details).


Significant Increases in Video Conferencing for Remote Teaching - The Virtual Classroom

Many Unified Communications, Video Conferencing and streaming products benefit from the high-end AMD EPYC CPUs and AMD Radeon Instinct GPUs provisioned within Azure’s NVv4 instance family. Zoom has become well-known for home use and has been seen in some educational settings. The enterprise offerings of Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts/Meet have also been widely adopted. Microsoft offered free licensing for Teams for educational users early on in the pandemic which accelerated uptake significantly.


Increased Uptake of Microsoft WVD within Azure

 Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) is a desktop and app virtualization service that runs on Azure. Released to general availability in September 2019, it has rapidly become very popular, particularly in Education. Microsoft’s educational licensing has always been extremely competitive for educational customers and many key M365 applications are ubiquitous in education including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and SharePoint. With Windows 10 Licenses included with M365 E3/A3 or E5/A5 licensing and WVD including 3-year Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (a $25-$200 per device per year benefit) and a path forward towards Win 10 at the customer’s own pace. WVD’s Windows 10 Single-session offer is competitive with competitive Cloud platforms but in education Windows 10 Multi-session (exclusive to WVD) is proving popular; with the advantages from multi-session and pooled deployment, WVD can deliver Windows experience at ~35% cost savings compared to some other providers closest alternatives.


Remote Access for Students for Design and Engineering Applications - Virtual Labs

Many colleges offering technical qualifications particularly design and engineering courses have historically relied on large physical on-campus labs equipped with high-end PCs and workstations with specialist licensed software installed shared by multiple classes. Moving these labs to Azure DaaS (Desktop-as-a-Service) is becoming mainstream to allow rota timetables, blended learning and allowing students to complete coursework and assignments from home. Applications such as Autodesk AutoCAD, Inventor and Revit, Adobe Creative, Dassault Solidworks, ESRi ArcGIS and Dassault Solidworks are common titles we see deployed, and many titles have been certified for use on the NVv4 platform by vendors such as Autodesk.


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George Watkins is a Product Marketing Manager for AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.


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