Sunday, November 11, 2012

When Will All Student Desktops Be Virtual?

There are occasions in the world of technology where customer needs and technology capabilities are incredibly well suited for each other.  This is the case for Desktop Virtualization and the K-12 environment.  Using the right virtualization solution can help K-12 technology managers meet the rigorous demands of today’s IT infrastructure for schools.

The demands start with a focus on reducing the daily costs of IT.  As the recovery slowly moves forward, most districts are finding that the tax receipts to fund the schools are lower, and as a result, the best case for many is a flat budget, making actual cost reductions critical as this frees up money for the new solutions that are needed.  Desktop virtualization helps achieve this by cutting software costs with better control over the system image; you only buy what you actually use. 

Sharing licenses is easier also.  It also lowers the amount of time IT needs to spend fixing corrupted clients or local software problems.  By deploying “fresh desktops” to each student as they sign on, problems created in one class don’t impact the next one.  This also simplifies the IT environment saving cost in IT resources.  With fewer variables it lowers the amount of IT resources needed.  Another key point is that by using a single standard “desktop” with just the needed applications and tools, security can be substantially increased as rogue programs, malware, and other security threats are not allowed to run on the standard system image.

Yet, not all virtualization solutions are the same.  There are actually multiple ways to implement desktop virtualization, and rather than go into all of the technical detail here, the focus should be on the most appropriate solution.

In my opinion, the best offering is to provide a fresh virtual desktop for each class or user to a local PC or thin PC that will then run the applications provided by the virtualization server, but locally.  This new class of PCs has reduced power consumption and also is physically much smaller for cramped classrooms.

The need to run applications locally is very important due to the demands by the curriculum for multi-media applications and activities.  New standard curriculum rules such as the Common Core State Standards for Language Arts and Literacy is a good example of this curriculum change that drives demand for “rich media” applications.

Running these applications in a virtual solution that treats the client device as a “dumb terminal” is asking for trouble with network performance and capability.  Most schools don’t have high speed local networks that can support this kind of multimedia network traffic, and implementing desktop virtualization to save money, and then having to spend more money on a network upgrade is non-sensical.  So moving to virtualization with local execution makes the best sense.

So when do all K-12 desktops become virtual?  The answer is sooner than you think!

As K-12 IT leaders seek ways to support computer-based learning within constrained budgets, desktop virtualization has emerged as a compelling solution. This white paper demonstrates how virtualization helps schools reduce their total cost of ownership and improve computer access, which ultimately produces greater satisfaction among administrators, teachers, students and parents.

View the original article here

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