K-12 school districts are always looking for ways to improve their schools and their student learning—all while saving money. It can seem impossible, especially when it comes to the IT department. Of course with IT comes big costs, especially when it comes to hardware refreshes, software upgrades, and resource utilization for performing these upgrades and expansions. And most school districts may only have a couple of IT resources to handle the support of this migration process. So every summer is spent performing these upgrades, leaving no time for strategic IT planning or improving the student learning experience.
Many large school districts have the budget and have been successful in building out their own internal “data center” with virtualized servers and possibly even a Virtualized Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). But when you look at the majority of school districts in the United States, most would never be able to afford that type of in-house infrastructure or the resources to implement it.
Looking at my home state of Indiana and the school district sizes across the state, 72% of school districts have less than 3,000 students, according to the Indiana Department of Education. With such small districts, it can be difficult to find the money to keep their IT standards where they need to be to prepare their students for the world. However, Desktops as a Service (DaaS) and more general server virtualization in the cloud and cloud-based computing can help small districts deliver a higher level of service at an affordable price. Below are my top 5 reasons why schools should seriously look at DaaS in the cloud:
- Hardware Replacements
Most schools will implement a 3-4 year refresh cycle of all machines throughout their district (computer labs, teacher computers, administrative offices, etc). Even though there is usually a nice education discount on hardware purchases, you still have resources who are spending the time to image new machines, supporting failing hardware throughout the district, and suffer from overall downtime to replace a machine when it fails unexpectedly.
With DaaS in the cloud, all of these existing desktops can be re-purposed as thin client connection devices to the new DaaS platform. This extends the life of the original purchase of these desktops, and then when those machines begin to fail, the replacement is a true thin client which is cheaper than your standard desktop.
- Software Licensing/Upgrades
I have witnessed many schools who still have machines running versions of Windows and Office that officially aren’t being supported by Microsoft anymore. Therefore no new service packs, security patches, and increased vulnerability for those schools.
With DaaS offerings, OS and Microsoft Office licensing can be provided and supported so perpetual upgrades can be made with no increase in monthly cost to the customer.
By utilizing DaaS, a school can get even closer to nailing down annual budget numbers rather than having spikes of IT budget because of unexpected physical machine replacements, software upgrades, and resource cost to perform such upgrades. To spin off reason #4, with cloud-based technology, you know your monthly cost per desktop and know that you are already covered for future OS and Office upgrades. If you have a plan to increase the number of students in the school and need more desktops, you know exactly the cost per student and can have those available in minutes from any type of device.
DaaS provides the scalability for school districts that are in growth mode. Many suburban areas around big cities are having more schools created and high schools divided to account for the migration of people into a hot, new community. The infrastructure expands (and contracts) easily when necessary.
Think of how standardized testing is moving to electronic formats. A school district can easily take advantage of these formats by providing a virtual desktop for a group of students to utilize during testing. Groups of students could be rotated through testing and each virtual desktop could be wiped clean and refreshed after every student use. Then once testing is completed, those virtual desktops can be turned off with no need to pay for them year-round.
- Device Agnostic
A school district can implement any number of devices throughout their schools to provide access to the student’s virtual desktop. This could be Apple iPads, more economical Android-based tablets, thin client devices, netbooks, or allowing a student to provide their own device or access from a desktop/laptop at home. All you need is an Internet connection. This gives the school so many different ways to implement 1-to-1 computing and enhance their students’ learning experience.
Polleo Systems has the experience and infrastructure in place to help guide your school to the next level of education. Contact us at [email protected] for more details on how your school can go Beyond the Cloud.