Having taught for 21 years (HOD, HOY, SLT) and then moved into the IT side of things I know the mentality of "Joe" teacher and sitting infront of Year 9 idiots on a Friday afternoon waiting for thin clients to do their job is not a pleasant experiece I can tell you.
Not sure where you are in the country but our door is always open. You are welcome to come and see the good, the bad and the terminally indifferent.
I'm with Dave_O on this one, I think visiting a site running a similar VDI setup to what your thinking of and getting the opinions of both techs and teachers would be a good idea.
I think VDI is pretty much there, you just need to make sure you have the money to throw at it.
Therefore when i started my new job and they where a VDI solutions provider (along with loads of other stuff) i was very skeptical - having seen it in practice on multiple sites and multiple environments and the improvements since i looked at it 3 years ago I'm impressed with what it can do. To such an extent we managed to get some software working with hardware pass through that not even the Software dev's could think of a way to do it (it was rather simple but they had been trying over complex situations!).
VMware view is supported on Windows, Mac, Linux, Ios and Android therefore fully portable and will run on most devices out there.
i wouldn't want to argue against the very big vdi rollout projects that i've read about, and it's fine for specific use cases. To me at the minute in schools it's a bit like going down the mac route, would you want to do genuine thin client VDI with more than 10% of your installed base, based on cost and user requirements ? If your talking about VDI for fat clients, well then desktop management has become sufficiently mature for means and ways to manage large numbers of fat windows7 clients without too much fuss...so much so that the argument for VDI seems to be that people have these massively over specced virtual servers where they've got their dozen or so school servers on to, underutilizing the rest of the hardware, the idea of centralizing desktops and marvelling at how cool it is to manage desktops from one central location is a compelling one. I don't think the user base are particularly grarteful ? Management would be grateful if you can show them the cost savings, but if your not saving energy where are you getting the cost savings.. ? and your potentially hampering the user base if they need to do something very demanding that the old way of working would chew up with no bother.
Last edited by alttab; 23rd May 2012 at 10:25 PM.
I've looked at VDI every year for the last 3. We are on a 5 year refresh cycle, which still (should) mean over 200 new desktops and laptops per year. VDI vendors tell me how much money I will save - but their figures made no sense (one particularly good one was assuming we employed one tech per 50 PC's and paid them £50K per year). They would tell me the ease of maintenance but neglected the training I knew we would need. I'm still looking but I can't make the case on cost savings.
I do like the access from anywhere aspect but a full VDI solution currently doesn't even make economic sense over (say) giving remote access to a classroom full of fat clients. I'm sure it will one day so I will keep looking at it ... every year.
Ubuntu for Android(yes its not actually happened yet).
With VDI and some kind of docking station along with tablets/smartphones you get the mobility and functionality of tablet devices and use of apps/html5 along with the full functionality of sitting and getting a full desktop environment when needed - as there are things that will never been able to use on a tablet/smartphone.
@pcstru this thread will cover the first part of your post - I will answer the rest in the morning as heading out.
Last edited by glennda; 23rd May 2012 at 10:34 PM.
Just my pennies worth but I actually thought about going down this route but having thought it through decisded against it for the reasons that have been explained on here by quite a few people.
One of the main reasons is that the whole dynamics of schools is changing, certainly the mood is of BYOD which eventually will expand, with the advent of the cloud storage and apps I doubt very much that schools want the burden of the ever increasing costs for new hardware every 3 or 5 years which adds so much to the budget of the school.
The development of increasing wireless technology protocols means that large files can be transfered over huge distance in the blinking of an eye so why have storage in the school with the added factor of DRP to worry about should anything happen to the school.
I feel that soon schools will become a thing of the past and students will learn from home, what would be the point in spending all this money on buildings, heating and lighting to turn out students who don't even have the skills required by the companies that want to employ them.
For now I would go for a virtual solution using whichever hypervisor you decide for the good of the school and fat or thin clients and laptops on a good wired/wireless network.
The reasoning behind this is that in the future if you do decide to move to the cloud you can migrate your whole network into some third party cloud solution and have done with it hehe!
Good luck with whatever you decide.
i certainly see a lot of the trends you talk about, but we all know old routines and methods have a habit of being quite firmly ingrained. like the piles of paper that inexplicably pile up in paperless offices :0) Or the people who always seem to end up working from the same hot desk.
if your talking about VDI for fat clients, well then desktop management has become sufficiently mature for means and ways to manage large numbers of fat windows7 clients without too much fussYour post is bang on. After looking at VDI for quite some time I concluded that at this point in time, there's sod all benefit to moving it and a shed load of disadvantages. To me, it looks like a lot of people are rushing head long into shoving in a VDI solution simply because it's touted as "the future" That may end up being the case, but it's not fit by any means for "the present"and your potentially hampering the user base if they need to do something very demanding that the old way of working would chew up with no bother.
VDI still struggles with doing basic stuff (Mainly media based, i.e Video/Flash/Aero/Google Earth/Image editing/etc) that our 6 year old thick clients can do with a minimal amount of fuss. When more and more software is relying on decent GPU performance nowadays this is just not acceptable. Heck, even Office is GPU accelerated these days (2010 upwards)
If the user experience is substandard or feels slow in any way your end users will think the system is crap, even if it technically isn't. They'll laugh when the expensive IT system can't do stuff that their cheap laptops or even smartphones can do. They won't laugh when this starts to mess up their lessons.
You can improve the performance with more expensive thin clients or accelerator software, but at that point they probably cost as much as a thick client that still does a much better job.
Management advantages? Where? At present, our thick clients are built from a single Windows 7 image that takes all of 20 minutes to deploy. Nothing of value is stored on the thick client & all software is either deployed via GPO or sits on a network share. If one dies, it's not really a big deal.
All I see is another layer of management to learn/babysit, another vendor to deal with, extra testing & another layer of things to go wrong.
On the client side, you are *still* stuck with upgrading the devices every few years. Depending on the model you buy, you have very little scope to upgrade the client software on them & often your left at the mercy of the OEM if they’ll release a firmware upgrade or not (i.e a new VMware View client.)
Thick clients you can do whatever you want with, i.e ours were bought on XP and have gone up to 7 with no issues, 6 years after purchase, 3 out of warranty.
I don't get the "BYOD" stuff either. You can do this already with a guest wireless network, a terminal server and/or file access via something like HAP. Easy & cheap.
I don't ever see BYOD taking off to the level in a school to a massive level as parents will (quite rightly) argue that if X equipment is required for lessons then the school should purchase & manage the devices.
Else you'll end up with a system of "haves and have nots"
Power usage is often held up as a reason to go to VDI, but I don't really see this either. Thick clients have improved this massively in the past few years and use a ton less power than they did previous. Whist yes, you'll never get it to the same level I feel the above disadvantages outweigh the benefits of this.
The only real advantage I could come up with was that most of your investment is server side, rather than clients that can be damaged by students. But again, Fat clients aren't exactly expensive nowadays.
So yeah, I'm lost as to why a school would want to throw in a VDI system as it stands at present.
Last edited by DrCheese; 24th May 2012 at 01:48 AM.
Man after my own heart.
DrCheese (24th May 2012)
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