University of South Florida - Using Citrix XenApp, university delivers anytime, anywhere access for students

University of South Florida is one of the largest public universities in the nation, supporting more than 47,000 students across three separately accredited institutions: USF Tampa, USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee. The university ranks 10th among universities granted U.S. patents and is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a top-tier research university, a distinction obtained by only 2.3 percent of all universities. Its heritage of innovation serves the university well when it comes to making the right technology available for its students, professors and administrators, no matter where they are or when they need it.

The Challenge: Giving today’s mobile students 24/7 access

“Originally we provided thousands of desktops in computer labs across the university to give students access to the computing resources they needed for their classes,” says Craig Woolley, assistant vice president of IT support services for the university. “A few years ago, we decided to implement a mobility strategy that would better support the needs of today’s students: on- and off-campus access and the ability to use their own devices anytime, anywhere.” The new strategy coincided with the university’s goal to reduce the time and expense of maintaining a burgeoning number of computer labs. 

The Solution: Delivering applications on demand to any device

For its new application gateway, the university used Citrix XenApp, Citrix XenServer, Citrix NetScaler and Citrix Receiver to provide on-demand access to applications from anywhere, on any device. Beyond providing 24/7 remote and on-campus access to the student population, the university’s audit and compliance team uses the XenApp portal and Citrix Receiver to access protected applications. The university is also using XenDesktop for small kiosks across campus. “Citrix is the leader in offering accessibility from any device, and that was a key selling point for us when we selected Citrix over Microsoft and VMware,” says Jason Hair, assistant director of IT support services at the university.


Enables new levels of accessibility and flexibility

“With Citrix, we can deliver services and capabilities we either couldn’t do at all before or were very costly and time consuming to provide,” says Woolley. “It’s helping students become more successful because they have access to high-end resources such as computer-aided design applications anywhere, anytime.” The university’s SMARTLab wouldn’t be possible without Citrix. The on-campus lab includes more than 350 machines that are set up to switch automatically between different configurations during certain parts of the day, depending on class and instructor needs. “Citrix also enables us to provide students or faculty with special needs access to ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act]-compliant software on demand,” says Hair.

Saves nearly $300,000 each year

By moving to Citrix, the university not only met its goal of delivering greater accessibility to all its students, both on and off campus, but it substantially decreased its costs. By reducing the number of open-use labs from eight to one and cutting the number of machines in those labs from 393 to 167, the university is saving nearly $300,000 each year on equipment and IT staffing costs. “This end-to-end solution makes us far more efficient in maintaining our on-campus infrastructure,” says Woolley.

Cuts troubleshooting and repair by 80 percent

The university can now virtually manage the 1,600 desktops in the computer labs remaining on campus. “By moving to the Citrix solution, we cut our number of trouble tickets by more than 80 percent, while delivering a more consistent experience for students and faculty,” says Hair. Before the new application gateway was deployed, the percentage of trouble tickets for software configuration issues was 90 percent, with only 10 percent caused by wear-and-tear hardware issues. Now, software configuration issues represent only 10 percent of trouble tickets. Better yet, they can be solved immediately using the Citrix solution, with no on-site technical support required.

Looking Ahead

“Now that we have our Citrix solution in place, I predict that usage will continue growing from this point on,” says Woolley. In addition to expanding its current usage on its own campuses, the university is contemplating offering the solution to other institutions. For universities without the IT resources to create a similar architecture, University of South Florida could provide a hosted solution. For now, though, the university is happy with delivering what it takes to help its students be successful, wherever they are.  

- Craig Woolley




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By moving to the Citrix solution, we cut our number of trouble tickets by more than 80 percent, while delivering a more consistent experience for students and faculty.
- Jason Hair

Assistant Director of IT Support Services




  • Enables greater accessibility and flexibility
  • Saves nearly $300,000 each year
  • Cuts troubleshooting and repair by 80 percent