Rhode Island school thinks 'zero' in quest to extend tech budget

Pano Logic's thin clients build on top of existing investments in VMware server virtualization to address the electricity limitations, space needs and administrative concerns of a Rhode Island school district.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

The Westerly public school district in Rhode Island is getting smarter about acquiring new technology by considering "zero" client hardware from Pano Logic.

The "zero" adjective could be construed in a lot of different ways, so let me clarify what's meant by the adjective in this marketing sense: Pano Logic uses the term to mean that its clients (which are priced at about $319 per seat) have no moving parts AND they aren't preloaded with any software. The Pano System leverages VMware virtual servers to serve applications to the user.

Mark Lamson, director of technology for the Westerly school district, says the school first considered the thin clients as a means of getting a computer lab up and running in a hostile physical environment. After testing five units, the district deployed an all-Pano computer lab at its high school. Lamson said not only was the cost compelling, but the technology also helped him with the following considerations:

  • The electrical limitations associated with an older school building (the Pano clients use 2.5 watts of energy)
  • The physical space constraints of the classroom chosen for the lab
  • The heat dissipation, which was less than that for the desktop computers that Westerly uses (there isn't any air-conditioning in the second floor classroom chosen for the lab)
  • The reduced software licensing costs associated with being able to leverage existing virtual machines
  • The ability to address tech support requests more quickly

A side benefit is security: Since there is no data stored on the devices themselves, it's simpler for Lamson's team to put in place access controls.

The engagement in Westerly is pretty discrete right now; there are about 75 clients in place compared with the roughly 1,200 traditional desktop PCs spread throughout the districts five elementary schools, one middle school and the aforementioned high school. But Lamson has adopted a thin first strategy when it comes to new client hardware: if it CAN be thin, he'll go for it. "It's disingenuous to say that one size fits all," he says. "But what I am trying to do is lower out total cost of ownership while delivering better service to our stakeholders. I have to work smarter, not harder."

You can download the complete Westerly case study, as well as read other case studies about the Pano System, by registering at this link.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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