Each year, Aurora Public Schools (APS) educate more than 1,200 K-12 students. To promote quality, modern education, APS’s faculty and students rely heavily on IT. Uses include lesson planning and presenting, calendars, grading, and individualized online coursework. As their 345 PC’s neared the end of their serviceable lives, APS’s computers grew increasingly problematic. All devices ran Windows XP, preventing the deployment of new applications. Increased risk accompanied rising IT outages and maintenance costs. Coupled with the need to revamp their IT, APS sought to prepare their IT for the future of educational technology. Thus, APS seized the opportunity to upgrade.
The upgrade presented a few obstacles. With a limited budget, the system needed to reap the most benefits for their students as possible. Additionally, the system needed flexibility to both meet today’s needs and follow school growth and evolving educational programs. Other requirements included quick execution of the project and ease of upkeep. In a nutshell, APS was looking for a future-focused and cost-effective solution ASAP. “The infrastructure had to be extremely flexible to support all of our different students, departments and subjects,” stated APS’s technology coordinator, Robb Nachtigal.
With the help of Dell products, solutions integrator Logical Front devised a hybrid solution catered to the needs of APS. Logical Front replaced traditional workstations in the classrooms and deployed virtual desktops in the computer labs. With the hybrid solution, faculty have uninterrupted use of their desktops while the students’ graphic-heavy coursework runs quickly. Nachtigal comments, “Even though we didn’t have the hardware or budget to run a persistent virtual desktop for every user, we could still gain the benefits and features of VDI where it made the most sense.”
Nachtigal continued, “Although cost and manageability were initially our top two priorities, the adaptability of our Dell Wyse solution is quickly becoming our single greatest benefit.” The solution’s infrastructure can support new devices and applications, preparing APS for fast adoption of educational IT. Soon after installation, APS implemented Adobe software for several of the district’s departments.
A third purpose for the hybrid solution is to ensure reliability, speed and manageability. The array stores all user and application data, while the server supports desktops. The servers and array connect to the school’s network using two Dell Networking 6248 GbE managed switches. To facilitate high availability, APS relies on Dell ProSupport for its servers, switches and clients. For the mission-critical SAN, the district uses Dell ProSupport Plus.
Nachtigal explains the benefits: “The VDI solution with Logical Front and Dell vWorkspace cost about 42 percent less than the other industry-leading solutions. The total cost of ownership is less when you factor in its 50 percent longer lifespan and significant reductions in implementation and management costs. Now, our district is in a great position to plan for the next generation of technology changes.”
Because the hybrid solution is reliable and the virtual desktops are centrally managed, desktop maintenance has all but become obsolete. “I no longer deal with break-fix issues or viruses,and I spend significantly less time on management,” Nachtigal says. “In our traditional environment, one single change request could take as long as four hours to implement and we had to wait for an after-hours update window. I typically spent at least six hours a week addressing problems. With Dell VDI, I can implement that same request in as little as 20 minutes. I effectively spend no time resolving support requests. Logical Front’s experience in the educational field was instrumental to meeting our needs. Its service has been excellent throughout the implementation phase and after.”
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