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Desktop Virtualization Saves School District $250,000

Charles Kanavel, director of technology for Campbell Union (CA) High School District felt a bit like the guinea pig on a training wheel: moving feverishly but not really making any progress. Every few years, the district had to refresh its desktop PCs and laptop systems, and it seemed like once the job was finished, it was time to start again. So in the spring of 2009, the district decided to go in a different direction, toward desktop virtualization, and the change quickly began to pay dividends.

For more than 100 years, Campbell Union High School District has been serving students in the Silicon Valley area. The district, which has about 8,000 students in grades nine through 12, has a diverse population: 55 percent  Caucasian, 23 percent  Hispanic, 12 percent  Asian, four percent  African-American, two percent  Filipino, one percent Native American, and even .8 percent  Pacific Islander. To support the students, there are 700 staff and faculty members who work in seven area high schools.
The district has about 2,500 PCs and 400 laptops that are used in classrooms, by administrators, faculty and in computer labs. The academic institution has been moving to virtualized servers in its data center, which has 30 physical servers supporting 20T bytes of information accessible over a Xiotech Storage Area Network.

Near the end of 2008, the district decided to examine alternatives to its typical desktop upgrades. A desktop virtualization option seemed attractive because it would allow the IT department to manage desktops from a central location while delivering a personalized experience to each user, no matter where they may be located. Consequently, this approach had the potential to help the educational institution reduce costs significantly, simplify maintenance, and increase security.

An initial examination determined that staying with the traditional approach would cost the educational institution about $1,000 per device annually while deploying a desktop virtualization system would run about $600 per system. In an eight year period, the district estimated that it would save $250,000 from the deployment. So the school district went off in search of a possible desktop virtualization solution. Quickly, the selection was narrowed down to Citrix's XenDesktop with HDS technology and VMware's VMware View.

The school district opted for the former. One attractive feature was XenDesktop's architecture. "We would not need to use as much storage with the Citrix system as we would have with the VMware system," stated Campbell Union High School District's Kanavel. In addition, the Citrix option offered the school a more intuitive user interface and simpler maintenance. The school district decided to upgrade its systems during the summer of 2009.  There were a few minor hiccups getting all of the different software elements to function. For instance, the school has been relying more on video transmissions, but it was difficult to get some video components to work in a virtualized environment.

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