Department of Education and Training (DET) chief information officer Stephen Wilson has said that he has solved the problem posed by having to provide functionality to his vocal Mac fans.
Wilson said today at an Adobe conference in Sydney that the DET's outgoing CIO issued an important piece of advice to him before he left: "Whatever you do, don't take on the Mac community. You will lose. It will cost your job. [The former CIO] said those people are willing to die in a ditch over whether they can have an Apple or ... a Windows computer."
"Well, guess what: five years down the track I don't care whether they have Macs. We don't care if they have Intel-based machines. All of them ... happen to be Windows 7 Intel-based machines. And we don't have any complaints. Even the Mac school said, 'Gee this is great because it has so much amazing software'. And the same software that we put on it runs on our Macs too. So, 'just like electricity' is an important concept."
However, another problem he has faced has been giving him more trouble — the capacity of the department's data network.
Wilson reflected that Rudd had called the laptops the "tool kit of the 21st century". However, that tool kit has also driven demand for data that has required DET to spend millions upgrading its network infrastructure.
In the coming weeks, DET will add two more 1Gbps internet links to its existing two as a direct result of the roll-out of Windows 7 Lenovo devices provided as part of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's $2 billion plan to revolutionise education.
"We have two 1Gbps connections. We're just about to double it to four," Wilson said today at an Adobe conference in Sydney. "We're going to run out of network capacity in a few months time. And indeed that is actually the case."
Besides bandwidth constraints, the amount of internet data that was being consumed had also been tested by the new laptops. "We've moved from 30 terabytes (TB) per month to over 60TB per month in a little over four and a half months at the end of last year. And that was on the back of the roll-out of the first 60,000-plus laptops to students."
By the end of the year, its data consumption was expected to hit 100TB, and the following year it was expected to reach 200TB per month, said Wilson. Increased demand on DET's internal networks, which support inter-TAFE and -school communications, was also behind a $280 million fibre upgrade that Telstra has been contracted for by the department.
The new laptops were being rolled out at a rate of 10,000 per week. "Right at the moment we have 280,000 PCs; next week we will have 290,000; and the week after we will have 300,000," Wilson said. "We're rolling out 10,000 per week."