“Technology will have a very limited impact on students if there is not regular and reliable access to quality hardware and software that meets the instructional needs of the learner,” said Abe Casillas, Chief Technology Officer at San Felipe Del Rio. “Virtualized desktop infrastructure (VDI) has enabled our district to extend access to technology for more students, at a price point that allows us to reinvest in extending learning beyond the classroom with a 1:1 computing initiative in our high school.”
Socorro Independent School District (SISD) operated a mix of 24,000 various desktop computers, including some that were as much as 10 years old. Performance of these legacy systems began to limit their usefulness and many of the district’s computer labs saw no usage. The district selected Dell Wyse Datacenter for Citrix environments, featuring Dell PowerEdge blade servers supported by Dell EqualLogic storage and Dell Networking switches to revitalize its aging hardware. Booting computers once took as long as 10 to 20 minutes; VDI reduced that to around two minutes.
“If hardware is slow to boot or performance is poor, kids and teachers tend to become frustrated,” says David Akers, team leader for Technical Support Services. “A middle school teacher told me she hadn’t used a particular computer lab in two years because the hardware ‘didn’t work.’ Since the VDI rollout, our older computers are being used. In fact, sometimes teachers can’t tell which labs have new hardware and which are running VDI on older systems.”
San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District (CISD) was facing a $3.3 million budget cut in 2012 and needed an alternative solution to a refresh of its PC base. After a consultation with a Dell channel partner, Weaver Technologies, Abe Casillas realized that he could dramatically increase the number of workstations across the district by implementing a virtualized desktop infrastructure. San Felipe Del Rio worked with Weaver Technologies to design and implement a solution that included 1,900 Dell Wyse CL10LE Thin Clients running on Dell PowerEdge M610 and M620 blade servers and backed by Dell EqualLogic PS6510E storage arrays.
“Every time there was an update,” Casillas says, “we had to go physically touch each PC. It was very time-consuming and took time away from the students, who were always distracted by whatever our tech was doing. We were losing a lot of instructional time, not to mention the time we spent of our own. Now, our district is avoiding about $1.25 million in annual expense by deploying our desktop virtualization model using Dell Wyse thin clients."
With the financial savings and additional IT capacity gained, both school districts are able to expand their IT initiatives. SISD is exploring a BYOD initiative that would use the district’s VDI to enable mobile access to educational content available in classrooms and computer labs. CISD is using the $1.25 million in cost savings to deploy a pilot 1:1 initiative using Dell Latitude 3330 at its freshman campus. The district hopes to use additional savings to deploy a comprehensive 1:1 program for all high school students in the coming year.