Indiana District Rolls Out Thin Clients and Cloud Solution
When Beech Grove City Schools' director of technology, Teresa Kratzer, gathered 35 district teachers and staff to form an ad hoc technology committee, she knew they faced a formidable challenge: With district budgets being strangled by a difficult economy while the need for ed tech continued to expand, she and her team were charged with solving the two disparate problems simultaneously.
A critical consultation with Integrity Network Solutions of Indianapolis, however, led to an unexpected solution: server consolidation, thin clients, and cloud storage.
Whereas the Indiana district's previous system required an IT staff of seven and a server in each of its six buildings, as well as regular upgrading of, and hefty energy expenditures on, nearly 1,500 desktops, laptops, and wireless devices, the solution led to reductions in every area. One district-wide server and 300 energy-efficient thin client virtual terminals with cloud storage have made the technology offerings at BGCS a lot leaner and more manageable, according to Kratzer.
"We saw cloud computing and adoption of the thin computing model as a way to solve the challenges we faced, while gaining additional benefits," Kratzer explained. "In addition to meeting our immediate computing needs, our plan for a low-maintenance system helps allay our perennial concern that next year's budget might be even tighter. Our investment in Wyse thin computing will pay dividends for years to come."
Integrity handled the initial setup, which first entailed swapping out more than 200 desktop PCs that had outlived their use, as well as launching two new computer labs with 30 thin client stations each. Users at BGCS schools can now access the Web and a number of programs on the district server using the new stations.
In addition, students who need to make up course credits in order to graduate or catch up to grade level can use the system to access Plato, an online course management system aimed at helping users make up credits. Said Kratzer, "We just couldn't take advantages of these resources before because managing them in our decentralized environment would have been too complex. Now, students are graduating with their class and the district graduation rate has improved."
Kratzer also noted that, with the new system and its consolidated server, the district now requires only one IT professional to manage all of its desktops, rather than one in each building, leading to cost savings of about $200,000 per year. She also cited the greater energy efficiency of the thin clients, which the district estimated saves an additional $30,000 annually.
Scott Aronowitz is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas. He has covered the technology, advertising, and entertainment sectors for seven years. He can be reached here.