Strength in numbers

Whitireia and Weltec are polytechnics in the Wellington region who decided to work together to improve the services they offer to their students. As a result of this vision, W² Shared Services was created.

W² general manager, Kathy Wolfe and Paul Fallon, chief information and technology officer, took us on a tour of both campuses to introduce us to what is possible when two organisations recognise the strength that comes from forming a community.

“For us it's really important that students get the same experience, whether they walked onto a WelTec campus or onto a Whitireia campus. We want to ensure that students just walk into the building and it works, as if by magic.”
Kathy Wolfe, General Manager, W² Shared Services
Kathy Wolfe and Paul Fallon taking us on a tour of the Whitireia campus

Kathy Wolfe and Paul Fallon taking us on a tour of the Whitireia campus

Photo: Ian Robertson

Collaboration is key

“We need a very strong network to underpin the ability for people to collaborate and work.”
Paul Fallon

For two institutions to work together, they need to be able to collaborate. And in order to collaborate you need to be connected. In 2014 W² came to REANNZ to see what we could offer. On the day we visited the campuses 2,700 students and staff were using the network from every building on campus and all the spaces in between.

What is success to W²?

“Success to me looks like IT getting out of the way”
Paul Fallon

Paul tells us that, while in the past IT departments tended to say no, W² shared services wants to say yes. “We want to say "yes" in a way that doesn't drain the funds of the institution. We believe the money given to the institution is best served educating the student, not providing IT solutions. The future to us looks like IT getting out of the way and students being enabled to learn.”

This vision for education is not unique. In countries around the world research and education institutions are dedicating time and resources to finding the best, not necessarily the easiest, IT solutions for their students and researchers. “When you invest in the best IT solutions it attracts and helps retain highly engaged students and researchers” says Steve Cotter, CEO of REANNZ. “IT is an essential part of the business ecosystem and will only increasingly be so in the future. It’s important for organisations around New Zealand to take W²’s lead and let high-speed, unlimited access to online resources help their students grow and develop in an unconstrained way.”

“We provide fast, quality infrastructure, so our members don’t need to worry about whether their IT infrastructure works, they can trust that it does. And that it will continue to work and meet their students needs in the future.”
Steve Cotter, CEO REANNZ

Money, money, money

High quality, high performance IT solutions do not have to cost the earth. Working with REANNZ has saved W² Shared Services $230,000 per year without compromising on service.

“You can squeeze that bottom line as much as possible, but if you're not delivering quality services at the end of the day then that's not helpful either.”
Kathy Wolfe

Working with REANNZ allows W² Shared Services to balance the books while also delivering over and above what they could have got via a commercial internet service provider.

Some of the W² shared services team meet up on the WelTec campus

Some of the W² shared services team meet up on the WelTec campus

Photo: Ian Robertson

What’s different about REANNZ?

“Our relationship with REANNZ is not like any other relationship we have with another network provider. It's a true partnership. They are a trusted advisor.”
Paul Fallon

REANNZ and W² Shared Services share a common goal: to improve the tertiary sector and connect people together. Kathy and Paul can trust that we’re recommending the best technical solutions for Whitireia and Weltec, because the line of communication and collaboration is wide open. Paul describes REANNZ’s network experience as “vast” and the knowledge REANNZ provides means that Paul can focus on other parts of his role. “For me it's a comfort factor”, he says.

Watch Kathy and Paul talk about their partnership with REANNZ