For Pearland Independent School District (PISD) near Houston, Texas, keeping nearly 10,000 PCs and 1,000 laptops updated has been a major challenge. In fact, thousands of the PCs are older than five years, with 1,000 from 2001. According to Desktop Services Manager Jonathan Block, many students and teachers find the older PCs to be practically useless. Lack of processing power and memory was found to be the fault. Due to these shortcomings, the school’s educational programs experience hiccups. Because the PCs varied in age, standardization across the district didn’t exist.
Across the district, a typical class will have up to eight PCs. Additionally, all schools have computer labs with up to 30 PCs for the students. These computers are used for research, test-taking, and comprehension practice in addition to driving printers, document cameras, and projectors. Some have connected interactive slates, so they can project notes and drawings for students to view.
Instead of replacing all but the most recently acquired desktop PCs in the entire district, Logical Front worked to employ cloud client-computing via a Dell end-to-end solution. “Replacing all the district’s legacy desktops would have cost an estimated $6.4 million” says Greg Bartay, director of technology. “We saved approximately $4 million with the Dell cloud client solution”. Those savings don’t include the man hours for replacing and installing the new computers. Most noteworthy is that that procedure “could’ve taken as long as two years, but with the Dell solution installed by Logical Front, we were able to do it all in 1/3 the time,” Bartay says.
Once PISD made the decision to pursue a VDI solution, it started reviewing hardware and software manufacturers. After extensive reviews, Dell was found to offer the best overall value. Dell’s Wyse datacenter solution is comprised of Dell PowerEdge M710 or M620 servers, Dell Equalogic PS Series or Compellent storage arrays, and Force 10 or Power Connect networking. Coupled with desktop virtualization software from Citrix, VMware, Microsoft or Dell plus Dell, Logical Front was able to enhance the customer’s IT resources. The necessary 10GbE performance was provided via Dell PowerConnect 8100 switches, delivering fast, responsive virtual desktops. Because system reliability was of the utmost concern, Dell hardware was chosen to ensure sustained system performance.
Block’s team is happy with the perks the district has gained by deploying the Dell VDI solution. The list is topped by the enhanced learning climate due to the uniform disk image. The results speak for themselves: IT support visits to classrooms have been shrunk and students are no longer avoiding the old PCs. The solution also supports secure remote access, without the cost and management or setting up a VPN. Because of this, Pearland ISD can tear down the walls of the standard classroom. Teachers and students can now access their desktops and applications from anywhere with internet access.
Other advantages include streamlined setup for state online testing, which sometimes require last-minute updates. Block noted that in the past he and other staff had to pull all-nighters to tackle those updates. Now they finish in under an hour, an unbelievable improvement. Bring your own device (BYOD) is becoming a growing phenomenon actively encouraged by the district. That’s because Block’s team can push the disk image to laptops and other mobile devices without security issues. Users in turn gain a higher level of flexibility in their access. “Instead of having full time staff manage our BYOD initiative, we use Dell’s cloud client solution instead,” Block says. “Now BYOD can almost take care of itself.”
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