VMware, Wyse and NComputing are pushing offering virtual desktop technologies for schools and universities that are working with tight IT budgets and outdated infrastructures.
For local schools, universities and other academic
institutions facing record budget shortfalls, along with outdated IT
infrastructures, companies such as VMware, Wyse Technology and Ncomputing are
all offering special deals and other programs to help them switch to a virtual
desktop environment. On Feb. 9, Wyse and VMware specifically detailed offerings to bring virtualization to the classroom.
IT administrators can deploy VMware View
and Wyse client
devices together to update the school's desktop infrastructure,
Wyse. School IT administrators can use VMware View, a desktop
management platform that can create virtual desktops, complete with the
necessary applications and user data, and automatically push them out
to the Wyse thin clients
according to the company.
Each student on a Wyse client could log into a virtual
machine and do exactly the same things as if it was a regular PC, and log-off
when done, according to Tim Smith, a Wyse spokesperson. A single server can
contain hundreds of virtual desktops, Smith said. All the virtual desktops can
be centrally managed using VMware View's management console, such as patch
management, installing new applications and adding new devices, Wyse said.
There is a "growing momentum" for desktop virtualization in
the classroom to "enable the computing freedom that educators and students
want," Wyse said.
While Wyse is offering special promotions
, such as $100
off qualified Wyse thin and zero clients and a 50 percent discount on Wyse PC
extender, for education buyers who purchase VMware View, the company is leaving
the product selection up to the institution. In contrast, Ncomputing
desktop virtualization vendor, offers an all-in-one offering that takes all the
guesswork and estimates out of classroom deployments. Ncomputing's Classroom in
A Box, launched in January, includes virtual desktop devices and the company's vSpace virtualization software. Classroom in A Box can support up to 30 users
per virtual machine, according to Ncomputing.
Virtualization and shared computing are particularly
attractive in institutions where multiple people use the same machine. With
soaring energy costs, growing demand for more powerful machines, and an
increasingly crowded data center, desktop virtualization increasingly makes
sense for schools to significantly reduce maintenance time and costs, according
Gartner analysts Federica Troni and Mark Margevicius
compared the total cost of ownership for traditional computers against
"server-based" computing in December and found that application delivery costs
on virtual systems were 8 percent to 13 percent lower than PCs. The application
delivery costs were dramatically lower, up to 44 percent to 47 percent lower
when compared against an "unmanaged desktop deployment," the analysts
Many school districts are faced with the expensive prospect
of replacing existing PCs as part of the refresh cycle as well as to update
older machines to Microsoft Windows 7. Those costs are minimized with a shift
to thin client computing, Wyse said. The thin clients also have a longer
product lifespan over a PC, ranging from five to seven years, according to the
company, allowing school district administrators to space out their hardware
refresh cycles further apart.
The zero clients are easy to manage from the management
console and they can run a variety of applications, Wyse said. Schools may
deploy virtual desktops to streamline desktop management, such as ensuring all
the latest patches are installed, checking for security vulnerabilities and
installing software remotely, said Wyse.
School districts were using desktop virtualization to offer
"affordable and sustainable" technology that could be managed with limited
resources, according to Wyse. For districts already using VMware in the data
center, it was just a matter of buying additional Wyse clients and extending
the virtualized infrastructure to cover the classroom, Wyse said.
Educational institutions concerned about being green also
pick the zero clients as they consume less energy and require less cooling in
the labs, classrooms, and data center, Wyse said. According to Smith, the thin
client uses less energy, takes up less space and is more reliable than a