Centralize and Virtualize - Tech Learning

Centralize and Virtualize

St. Anne School was founded as a Christian School in accordance with the Roman Catholic tradition in 1992 by a group of parents, clergy and community leaders serving children of all faiths in preschool through 8th grade.
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St. Anne School is a private Catholic School within the Diocese of Orange in Laguna Niguel, California. St. Anne School was founded as a Christian School in accordance with the Roman Catholic tradition in 1992 by a group of parents, clergy and community leaders serving children of all faiths in preschool through 8th grade.

The challenge

In late 2009, Joe Kemp, IT manager for St. Anne School, was faced with the prospect of replacing or upgrading 60 aging desktop computers used in grades K-3. “I evaluated several different types of solutions that involved replacing or recycling the existing hardware, but none of them offered the user experience that I was looking for,” said Kemp. “The applications that our students use are designed to provide a rich multimedia experience, and it was important that we choose a technology solution that would support Flash and other multimedia programming languages.”

Among the applications used daily by St. Anne School’s K-3 students are Microsoft® Word, Microsoft PowerPoint and a flash-based instructional application developed by the MIND Research Institute for elementary school students. Additionally, the school uses classroom technologies such as interactive white-boards and remote student response systems.

“St. Anne School is very progressive when it comes to implementing technologies that are education-driven,” said Randy Adams, Head of School, St. Anne School. “Both our parents and our board have high expectations, and one of our primary objectives is to provide our students with state-of-the-art tools and technologies that help them succeed both inside and outside of the classroom.”

Due to the cost associated with routinely replacing and maintaining the desktop computers, as well as the difficulties he experienced in trying to find a solution that would support St. Anne’s multimedia requirements, Kemp evaluated the possibility of deploying a desktop virtualization solution at the school. More commonly used in corporate environments, virtualization offers centralized access to student applications and support for multimedia rich applications through Citrix’s HDX™, or High-Definition Experience, technology.

Kemp met with representatives of Agile360, the Southern California division of Entisys Solutions, Inc.,provider of enterprise virtualization and access delivery solutions. Together, they chose a virtualization solution that leverages Citrix XenServer, Citrix XenDesktop and Wyse Xenith Zero Client computing hardware.

The solution

In January 2010, K-3 students returned to St. Anne School after the holiday break to find their classroom desktop computers had been replaced with Wyse Xenith Zero Clients that offer virtual access to Windows® 7 desktops and all of the classroom applications, through Citrix XenServer and Citrix XenDesktop. Additionally, a lab housing 25 Apple® Mac desktop computers, which had not been used since the school discontinued its digital music program, was now fully-functioning and offering virtual access to the same PC applications found on the classroom terminals.

“The ability to integrate the desktops from our Mac lab as part of this project is an added bonus,” continued Kemp. “I had initially thought I might have to retire of all of those computers, and I am quite impressed with Citrix’s ability to provide our students seamless access to their classroom applications across both the PC and Mac platforms, using the same licensing agreements.”

Each of the K-3 classrooms now houses 4-5 Wyse Xenith Zero Clients in the place of the old traditional PCs. Currently, approximately 300 students in grades K-3 are accessing their applications via Citrix XenServer and Citrix XenDesktop, either in their classrooms or from the Mac lab.

Prior to the start of the 2010-2011 school year, St. Anne School initiated the second phase of its virtualization technology implementation. The school library’s new media center now features 42 Wyse Xenith Zero Clients supported by Citrix XenDesktop, which offers students access to Windows 7 desktops. The terminals are both cost-effective and offer significant energy savings, as they do not require structured cabling and use approximately 7 watts of power, compared to around 200 watts for traditional desktop computers.

St. Anne School also provided 250 students in grades 6-8 with a personal Netbook computer, for use both on campus and at home. Each Netbook is outfitted with Citrix XenApp, to ensure that the computer is equipped with the latest version of the school’s required software applications, without manual intervention from the IT staff.

Key Benefits

As a result of its investment in the Citrix XenServer and Citrix XenDesktop the school is saving time and resources due to a reduction in computer down-time and the ease and efficiency of conducting software upgrades within the virtual environment. “Instead of having to install the same software on more than 350 different computers, all I have to do is upgrade it on one virtual desktop – the amount of time saved is well worth the investment,” said Kemp. “Also, leveraging Wyse’s thin terminals, I no longer am tied to the 3-year average PC replacement cycle, since the thin terminals will effectively operate for 7-8 years.”

“Agile360 has done a terrific job in partnering with St. Anne School throughout our virtualization deployment,” Kemp added.

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