Last week, Yale Information Technology Services launched My Apps at Yale, a service that gives students access to more than 60 Yale-licensed software applications from a single platform.
According to a press release written by Eric Grenier, supervisor of public computing services at ITS, My Apps at Yale can be accessed from computers throughout campus libraries and residential colleges marked with a “Powered by Citrix” label. In the press release, Grenier also noted that through the My Apps at Yale service, students’ individual application settings will be the same even on different computers.
Jack Callahan ’80, senior vice president for operations and interim chief information officer for ITS, said that My Apps was initially offered on select public computers in the residential colleges. Callahan added that the service gradually phase into residential colleges and Bass Library, with ITS asking for feedback and areas of improvement before each expansion.
Callahan said that My Apps was developed to meet the need to deliver up-to-date applications to the student population in a timely manner.
“The overall goal of My Apps is to allow student access to the best possible computing experience by always delivering up-to-date applications,” Callahan said. “This new experience also brings access to cloud storage so that students no longer need to work on the same machine to access their data, or worry about keeping track of a thumb drive. With My Apps student files and personal data are always available and accessible.”
According to an ITS press release, the software titles compatible with My Apps include Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, Microsoft Office 2016, STATA and MatLab, among others. Callahan added that the still-expanding list of Yale-licensed software includes titles that are normally only available for the Windows platform, such as the statistical software package SAS. My Apps allows students to access SAS “without regard to the platform they are running, eliminating the need to create Windows virtual machines on the individual’s computer.”
In the first week of My Apps’ release, feedback has been generally positive, based on interviews with Callahan and students.
Professors have begun to take advantage of the service. At the School of Public Health, students in “Applied Analytic Methods in Epidemiology” are using My Apps to utilize SAS, Callahan said. The class uses SAS to analyze epidemiologic data, according to its syllabus.
“Some students have expressed excitement upon learning that they have the ability to save documents to cloud accounts such as Box and Google,” said Callahan. “We also have been getting requests to add more Yale licensed software to the environment, which is easily done. Finally, one of the greatest benefits of My Apps at Yale is that individuals using a Macintosh computer can more easily run Microsoft products on their devices, which opens up considerable opportunities for cross-collaboration.”
Still, undergraduates were not familiar with the service. Annie Bui ’17, an member of the Student Technology Collaborative, a group of student employees who assists undergraduate and graduate students with computer hardware and software issues, was not familiar with the My Apps service. Addison Hu ’17, a senior coordinator for the Student Technology Collaborative, did not have a comment about the services.
“I’ve seen the ‘Powered by Citrix’ labels on computers, but I haven’t had a chance to take advantage of My Apps,” said Kelsang Dolma ’19, a student who has used statistical software packages on residential college computers. “However, I think the service has a lot of potential, if more students knew about it.”
According to the 2015 ITS annual report, there are over 19,000 cores installed across all Yale high performing computer clusters, with a total of 6.7 petabytes of storage.