ChannelLife Australia logo
Industry insider news for Australia's technology resellers
Story image

Exclusive Interview: Targeting the university sector with AARNet and Zoom

By Patrick Martlew
Fri 27 Apr 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Internet Service Provider and network infrastructure operator AARNet has quite a well-recognised history within the Australian public sphere.

Known as the ‘founders of the internet in Australia’, AARNet was always entrenched in the university and education sector, beginning with the development of network infrastructure and services for education institutions in 1989.

ARRNet is a not-for-profit organisation that lives to serve its shareholders, which are made up of 38 universities around Australia as well as the CSIRO. 

While it owns and operates the infrastructure that connects universities nationally - the National Research and Education Network (NREN) - for the past 5 years the company has also been acting as a more of a channel reseller, offering services and applications on top of its infrastructure. 

One of the vendors ARRNet has been working with is cloud video conferencing provider Zoom, with ISP implementing a range of Zoom services - with features such improved white-boarding, polling and security group controls - for both Western Sydney University and Central Queensland University.

We sat down with ARRNet head of product management Alex Grande and Zoom Video Communications head of A/NZ Michael Chetner to discuss both AARNet’s unique position as an NFP reseller as well as its implementation of Zoom for the university sector.  

AARNet is a not-for-profit organisation, how does this differentiate things in terms of how you operate as a reseller?

Alex: We focus on the education and research sector only and the way we invest in products and services is really dictated by the idea that we align our strategy with what our shareholders are looking at achieving. Thus the not-for-profit tag becomes relevant to us as we are essentially just servicing our shareholders and the investors in the business. 

Thinking about that University and academic research focus, is it important is it for a reseller to focus on specific verticals, or is it possible to be a jack of all trades?

Alex: That’s a great question you’re asking because for us at the moment, our focus is on the research and education sector and the fact that we have a number of shareholders allows us to create a value proposition for customers within this sector. 

To me, having that focus allows us to be innovative within the space while becoming intimate with our customers and ensuring that we can understand the varying range of use-cases within the area. That sector doesn’t just incorporate Universities, it also involves schools, gallery, libraries and more, so it’s fundamental for us that we understand the specific needs of the sector as we develop services. 

For example, we need to understand the differentiation for how a Zoom service might be consumed in a library vs a university or a school. So to me, the fact that we are focusing on this specific sector means we can offer a completely customised and unique service back to the community and our customers. 

Obviously, cloud migration is a massive ICT trend at the moment, how has AARNet adopted its business model to meet the associated challenges here, in regards to the education sector?

Alex: I suppose the challenges are quite similar to any organisation that is currently dealing with applications and services. Essentially we have to make sure we have the right underlying infrastructure to support the services that are required. So we need to have the right approach to scalability and security, the latter of which has been a big topic in the industry for at least the past four or five years. We have done a lot of work to ensure that our products and services have a robust security mechanism, especially when working in our sector. 

Although again, I think the most important thing has been to ensure that the products are relevant to the community. It’s quite simple for an organisation to set up products and services without really fulfilling the needs that clients have within the market. That’s why I think the collaboration with Zoom has really been paying dividends for us, as it has allowed us to tackle opportunities and really hit the mark for our customers who have the specific needs that we are able to focus on and cater for through our joint proficiencies. 

You collaborated with Zoom on video collaboration projects for Western Sydney University (WSU) and Central Queensland University (CQU). Opening up to Michael as well -  why was Zoom the right fit as a vendor partner for these projects?

Michael: Well with these two projects, those two universities have some of the highest levels of active users in the sector and the adoption of Zoom made sense for a lot of reasons. For Western Sydney University, that project not only involved virtual spaces but also physical spaces. So when you’re talking about learning spaces and the way they are designed, collaboration solutions need to be about how your facilitating interaction in certain environments. 

Zoom provides a lot of freedom here because students can have ad hoc catch-ups in Zoom rooms and within those structured learning environments they’ve also got the capabilities of using Zoom and sharing content recording amongst other things. Using the cloud platform and the fact that AARNet has integrated many vendor partners on that platform, also means that students have the ability to integrate into other lecture captured LMS systems and so forth. 

ARRNet also provides an App Store-like environment with a number of vendors - including Zoom - which provides a familiar interface for students or lecturers to be able to utilise tools in the ways that a consumer might expect. 

Looking at CQU, their CIO Roy Pidgeon told me that more than 70% of their students are remote, so they don’t walk into a physical environment. So the delivery mechanism for that is around real-time media, video, sharing tutorials and watching lectures, which is all accomplished through Zoom. So all in all, Zoom fit the bill pretty well and there was a great deal of synergy between us and ARRNet, to be able to deliver a valuable service to users. 

Michael, from a vendors perspective, what are some of the unique channel challenges that exist when operating in the university sector?

Michael: it is a unique sector. When you talk about a channel strategy for any vendor, you either inherit an incumbent strategy where isn’t a lot of differentiation, or you build things from the ground up. The latter is what Zoom has been doing because we stress the idea that if you haven’t got that explicit value in your offering as a partner, you’re just another channel partner and you don’t bring anything new to the table. 

Based on my experience in the past with channel and with customers, what we have here is essentially a whole lot of benefits, including AARNet’s high-speed networks and the high-scale user communities of universities. Both of these things are mission critical and I think there is almost a higher level of expectation from AARNet as a result of these proficiencies.

However, they’ve bundled the value up really nicely. If I was to compare their offering with any other service provider, it's very easy to have the pipes but you need to have relevant applications that sit with them. So what AARNet has done has created an environment - through APIs and modern cloud systems - where you can easily streamline workloads, whether they’re single-sign-on or Zoom, which is far different to how things were a few years ago.

Other vendors and other customers are struggling with the fact that they aren’t properly utilising cloud in these environments and efficiencies around bringing things together aren’t there because there is an inability to leverage a cloud ecosystem. 

I think AARNet is really the exception to this rule. There’s only one other great example in the wider Asian region of an app marketplace being implemented in the university sector, and that’s in New Zealand. However, even there, they’re really only just starting that modern approach to constructing an app store that is fully validated for all of their departments. 

So they’re a good few years ahead of the curve, and they make operating in the space - from a channel perspective - much much easier because you’re working with a partner that knows the sector inside and out. 

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Telstra
Ericsson and Ciena, Telstra enhance service capacity for Telstra's optical network
Ericsson, Telstra, and Ciena have announced new enhancements to Telstra's Next Generation Optical Network, which will increase the service capacity of Telstra's optical network to 400 GE (Gigabit per Second Ethernet).
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Siemens expands NVIDIA partnership for industrial metaverse
Siemens is expanding its partnership with NVIDIA to enable the industrial metaverse and increase the use of AI-driven digital twin technology.
Story image
Amazon
What brands can expect from Amazon Prime Day in Australia
Amazon Prime Day is the annual two-day shopping event, kicking off this year from July 12-13 and is the global online shopping platform's biggest sales event. 
Story image
Cybersecurity
Delinea’s Joseph Carson recognised with OnCon Icon Award
Delinea chief security scientist and advisory CISO Joseph Carson has been recognised as a Top 50 Information Security Professional in the 2022 OnCon Icon Awards.
Story image
Civil Defence
OutSystems platform chosen as part of ADF contract
"To be included in this project is a reflection of our ability to deliver secure, modern digital outcomes for defence at an incredible pace."
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Dynatrace extends automatic release validation capabilities
Dynatrace has extended its platform release validation capabilities to improve user experience at every stage of the software development lifecycle.
Story image
MSP
Video: 10 Minute IT Jams - An update from CyberArk
Olly Stimpson joins us today to discuss the importance of MSP programmes and how MSP partners are experiencing success with CyberArk.
Story image
Documentation
Adobe study finds lack of digital trust and utilisation in Australian Government agencies
New research commissioned by Adobe has revealed a significant lack of digital trust within Australian Government departments, along with the continued underutilisation of key digital processes.
Story image
Data Protection
Five signs your business is ready to move to the cloud
Many organisations are thinking about moving to the cloud. But what are the signs you are ready, and what are the reasons to move?
Story image
Cloudian
Cloudian, Vertica to deliver on-premise data warehouse platform
"We’re enabling our customers to capitalise on a leading object storage platform and maximise the value of their digital assets.”
Story image
Enterprise Resource Planning / ERP
Five ways your ERP is letting you down and why its time for a change
Wiise explains while moving to a new system may seem daunting, the truth is that legacy systems could be holding your business back.
Story image
Citrix
The best ways to attract young talent during labour shortages
New research from Citrix reveals hybrid working and ventures into the metaverse are top of mind for Gen Z workers.
Story image
State Library of Victoria
State Library of Victoria entrusts Oracle support and security to Rimini Street
“Our finance team are very happy with the support and security that Rimini Street provides, which keeps our assets and our customers secure."
Story image
Digital Fingerprint
Decline in counterfeit cherries after digital fingerprinting
Reid Fruits says there’s been a dramatic decline in counterfeit products for its cherries over the past three export seasons to Asia because of digital fingerprinting.
Story image
Hybrid Cloud
Advent One acquires Layer 8 Networks, complements hybrid cloud offering
The acquisition comes at a time of surging demand in hybrid cloud, network virtualisation and network security.
Story image
Review
Hands-on review – CleanMyMac X utility for macOS
We get hands-on with a useful utility that macOS users never thought they needed but probably do.
Story image
Human Resources / HR
Honeywell launch third RAP in support of Reconciliation Australia
"RAPs provide a framework to leverage their structures and diverse spheres of influence to support the national reconciliation movement."
Story image
Public Cloud
Public cloud services revenues top $400 billion in 2021
"For the next several years, leading cloud providers will play a critical role in helping enterprises navigate the current storms of disruption."
Story image
WatchGuard Technologies
Ransomware volume doubled 2021 total by end of Q1 2022
Ransomware detections in the first quarter of this year doubled the total volume reported for 2021, according to a new report. 
Story image
Design
Hands-on review: Phillips Hue starter kit
The set-up was one of the simplest I have ever had to do. It is also where the products shine. I was able to connect the bridge, the three lightbulbs and the strip within 10 min.
Story image
Retail
Australia Post Online Retail Industry Awards finalists for 2022 announced
Finalists have been announced for this year's 2022 Australia Post Online Retail Industry Awards (ORIAS Awards), recognising the achievements of online retailers in Australia.
Story image
Ransomware
Businesses unprepared to defend against ransomware attacks
Ransomware attacks continue to impact organisations worldwide with high costs, but businesses are still largely unprepared.
Story image
Microsoft
SAS wins Microsoft ISV 2022 Partner of the Year award
"We formed the SAS and Microsoft strategic partnership with a shared goal of making it easier for customers to drive better decisions in the cloud."
Story image
Hybrid Cloud
HPE GreenLake advances hybrid cloud experience with new services
"The innovations unveiled today further build on our vision to provide the market with an unmatched platform to spur innovation and drive transformation.”
Story image
Hybrid workforce
Why hybrid working is here to stay and how to ace it
Citrix's new report reveals hybrid workers are more productive and engaged at work than their office and completely remote counterparts.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Eight top DevSecOps trends to support IT innovation in 2022
The use of DevSecOps practices is growing, as it is increasingly seen as the best way to produce high-quality and secure code. So what are the current trends?
Story image
Aspire
NEC expands Open RAN ecosystem with Aspire Tech acquisition
With its agreement to acquire Aspire Technology, NEC Corporation has further increased its capacity to deliver End-to-End Open RAN ecosystems.
Story image
Supply chain
Supply chains continue to be disrupted, enterprises embrace circular economy
“Businesses urgently need to find a solution that can help them to manage this disruption, and transition to a circular economy."
Supply chain
Discover the 4 critical priorities for wholesale distribution businesses in FY23. Are you worried about how supply chain issues may affect your business in 2023?
Link image
Digital Transformation
Discover the 5 signs your business is ready for a cloud-based ERP. Is your business being left behind as more of your competitors switch to the cloud?
Link image
Story image
Wiise
Four things wholesale distributors need to consider for FY2023
In a post-pandemic world, there are many things for a distribution business to juggle. ERP solutions company Wiise narrows down what companies should focus on.
Story image
Accounting
Four factors to consider when choosing the right job accounting solution
Progressive job-based businesses can achieve success by strengthening their ability to quantify every cost attributable to the delivery of an outcome for a customer.
Story image
Digital Transformation
Google Cloud launches new Digital Accelerator bundles for Aussie SMBs
The new bundles are designed to help Australian small and medium-sized businesses embrace digital transformation and take their businesses online.
Story image
Cyber Criminal
Identity and access: the fight is on
Blue team defenders are used to protecting our data, applications, and users with access controls and other security mechanisms, which is why attacks like this are especially challenging when they target identity and access control systems.
Story image
Cybersecurity
FIDO Alliance releases guidelines for optimising UX with FIDO Security Keys
The new guidelines aim to accelerate multi-factor authentication deployment and adoption with FIDO security keys.
Story image
Samsung
Monitors are an excellent incentive for getting employees back
The pandemic has taught us that hybrid working is a lot easier than we would’ve thought, so how can the office be made to feel as comfortable as home? The answer could be staring you in the face right now.
Productivity
Discover the 5 ways your ERP may be letting you down. Is your current system outdated, difficult to manage, and costing you a fortune?
Link image
Story image
Manufacturing
Sutton Tools deploys Infor M3 CloudSuite for manufacturing
Sutton Tools has also implemented the Infor OS cloud operating platform, including Infor Intelligent Open Network and Mongoose.
Project management
Discover the 4 crucial factors for choosing the right job-costing solution. Is your team struggling to cost jobs and keep projects running on budget?
Link image
Story image
Online shopping
Consumers want speed, visibility in return for brand loyalty
72% of Australian shoppers want complete online order visibility and 63% are loyal to retailers who deliver goods the fastest.
Story image
Tech job moves
Tech job moves - Bitdefender, Cohesity, Fortinet & MODIFI
We round up all job appointments from June 27-30, 2022, in one place to keep you updated with the latest from across the tech industries.
Story image
Dicker Data
EXCLUSIVE: Why women in IT makes good business sense - Dicker Data
The Federal government wants to bolster female participation in the tech industry to at least 40% by 2030. Here's how one homegrown Australian company has already reached that goal.
Story image
Payroll
How New South Wales state departments achieved cloud migration success
State departments in New South Wales are heading to the cloud to achieve better workflow solutions, and one company is paving the way for their success.
Story image
Cybersecurity
Tech and data’s role in the changing face of compliance
Accenture's study found that 93% of respondents agree or strongly agree new technologies such as AI and cloud make compliance easier.