College group to slash printing costs by $800,000 over two years

Students pay to print using secure payment gateways

College and online education operator Think: Education Group has used virtual private cloud services as a catalyst to cut printing costs by $300,000 by the end of this financial year and a further $500,000 annually from FY14.

The education group – which has eight college campuses across Australia and 95 online training courses – is using the Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) service to pave the way for a printer cost recovery project.

Under the latest project, print jobs are allocated to the specific accounts through secure authentication systems and payment gateways within the student and administration portals. Up to 15,000 students use a swipe card system to pay for printing services and use a secure browser to top up credit.

The organisation uses the VPC service to provision a private section of Amazon Web Services’ cloud platform. Here, the company uses infrastructure resources in a virtual network that it defines and controls, including selection of IP address range, creation of subnets and configuration of route tables and network gateways.

Andy Donaldson, IT director at Think: Education Group, told CIO Australia that over the past two years, the organisation had moved Web hosting and applications, portal environment and now managed printing services to the cloud.

In recent years, the company has grown through acquisition, which according to Donaldson, “resulted in a complicated web of ICT systems and back-end infrastructure at various levels of maturity, coupled with multiple IT providers, hosting locations, processes and policies.

“We are in the process of moving towards having two hosting environments [through an] internal data centre and in the cloud,” he said.

Core administration systems – that enable students to apply online, check exam timetables and results – are also learning portals which contain course material, lecture notes and online learning products, and are hosted in the cloud.

According to Donaldson, Think: Education Group expects to reduce its annual IT hosting costs by around 75 per cent from $200,000 to $50,000 by this time next year. This is due to a move towards paying for rented space rather than purchasing servers to support its core applications and systems.

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