School District Repurposes PCs and Saves $136,000

What would you do if you’re a cash-strapped school district with 800 netbooks running end-of-life Windows XP—and there are 800 elementary school students eager to use them? And you can’t afford to replace the six-year-old Acer Aspire One netbooks, or buy $200 thin clients that would enable you to run a virtualized desktop environment.

If you’re Dustin Chew, a senior network engineer at Indiana-based New Castle School District, you search for a way to repurpose your existing netbooks as thin clients, and you find Stratodesk NoTouch Desktop™. It’s a Linux-based operating system that enables PCs to be repurposed to host a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), which in this case is Citrix VDI-in-a-Box.

NoTouch saved the district $136,000, or 85 percent of the cost of new thin clients.

Says Chew: “NoTouch gives us an easy-to-use web-based interface, and from any computer, we can use it to make district-wide setting changes in minutes that took days before. We’ve cut endpoint remediation time in half, and endpoint security is not a concern. We put the time we save into enhancing the centralized desktop image.”

Because changes or additions to the desktop are easier to make, teachers can have them made overnight, once a month instead of once a semester. “I used to get complaints daily from teachers who said the laptops kept them from doing something they wanted to do,” says Chew. “Now, complaints are rare.”

Students like the faster speeds of the centralized desktop, which runs with 50 percent more RAM and a 33 percent faster processor than any of the netbooks. Boot-up and log-in are complete in 75 percent less time, saving 20 minutes a day which adds up to 60 hours per year, equivalent to about 10 days of learning time. And students all have access to the same applications—many of which wouldn’t run on some of the netbooks before.

“We can now offer a consistent user experience across the district,” Chew says. “This is a solid step in supporting better educational outcomes for students.”