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Case Studies
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School District Enhances Educational Experiences with Virtual Desktop Infrastructure Solution

    TERACAI teams with Phoenix Central School District

    The Phoenix Central School District sought to create a more manageable and consistent desktop experience for all its users.

     

    In this short video, Theodore Love, director of technology for the Phoenix Central School District, explains how its virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution has simplified endpoint management and allows Phoenix to deliver a consistent end user experience no matter where a teacher or student logs in.

 

Learn how the Phoenix team achieved these outcomes:

  • Increased efficiency of VDI solutions enabled the school district to maximize its resources
  • Restructure of the IT team allowed more time for business-critical tasks and less time on day-to-day maintenance of desktops
  • Development of new skillsets for IT staff enabled team to be more strategic and responsive to needs
  • Enhanced user experience for students and teachers due to consistent desktop experience and ability to log in from anywhere
  • Improved capabilities for future growth and to successfully accommodate trends like BYOD

 

Read the full case study here.

Watch a webinar based on this project here.

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Transcription:

The Phoenix School District is just north of Syracuse, New York. We're a fairly rural school district with about 1,900 students enrolled K-12. We were in the situation where if I went to a network closet there would be masking tape over ports that weren't working. There were network switches that were hanging on computer lab walls. Network failure was something that the staff had come to expect. Because of our network design at the time we would frequently run out of IP addresses in our elementary school and our devices would not be able to be functional on the network.

 

So we were already beginning to see some of the side effects from not addressing those problems. Looking at the IT team, I looked at that staff and saw how qualified they were to maintain the 1,200 desktops that we had across our district but we really struggled being able to maintain those desktops in a manner that was timely and responsive to staff's needs. We created a vision with the technicians that we were working with. That vision was that there had to be a better way to do things. We really have held steadfast to that vision and looked at a number of different options. We looked at how we were deploying our applications. We evaluated a number of different solutions and then did tests, proof-of-concepts, in order to see what would fit best in our environment.

 

Moving into VDI was an evolution from there as we looked at there had to be a better way to maintain our desktops. The first decision we made as we tried to pursue that decision of delivering the more manageable desktop was actually to look at the clients. Moving to a solution that was thin client-based allowed us to pull back that end-point management into a more consolidated fashion. We did a number of proof-of-concepts with CXtec and VMware and Microsoft solutions and TERACAI’s assistance ended up implementing the VMware view system.

 

The biggest opportunity that virtualization on the desktop side gave us was actually retooling our IT team. Now we're in a position where the technology team can deliver solutions quicker. We can do weekly image updates to deal with Adobe and Java updates as they come out and really focus on delivering an end user experience so that no matter where a teacher or student logs on in the district, whether it be a physical PC, a thin client, or remotely, that they have the same experience and we're able to deliver the applications that they need to do their job or to continue their work.

 

It really has allowed us to put solutions in place and really leverage our knowledge of designing that desktop experience. Then get us out of the business of dealing with the physical classroom environment or physical computer lab environment.

 

We worked with TERACAI to design a new network topology. We've worked to do a lot of staff training where the TERACAI engineers will work with us to implement a solution. They'd be in the first stage and work side-by-side with the IT staff who will then conduct the second and third phases of a rollout. Working with TERACAI engineers was something where instead of just doing the scope of work and having it deliverable they truly listen to what the district needs. Looked at our goals and often times would help us look at multiple solutions just to make sure that we were truly understanding what the technology landscape was so that we could identify the best solution for the district.

 

What I think is valuable about working with TERACAI engineers is their experience that comes from working on a broad range of industries and sectors as well as a depth of knowledge with not just the network but with the applications residing on the network. For our end users it's about the applications. If they can't use the application then it doesn't matter what we've done with the network.

 

We're in a time where the demands on the IT department are ever-changing and ever-increasing. Specifically in public education, the resources to be able to do that are decreasing. Because we took advantage of virtualizing our desktops and finding a more efficient way to deliver the desktop experience, our IT staff has been able to absorb more responsibilities. Virtualizing our desktops was one of the best decisions we've ever made because it really put the IT team in control.

 

We used to be spending 40-50% of our time troubleshooting. We've reduced that to 8-10% of our time troubleshooting. It's made for a better environment for the IT because they're not stressed out trying to respond to emergency situations. Instead we're proactively looking at how we're going to be meeting users' needs in the future. We've moved from the conversation of "How can we deliver a solution?" to "How can we really transform teaching and learning for our students?"