Compute Smartly

Virtualization creates space

Commercial College for Business Languages consolidates computer workplaces using NComputing devices

Using computers as a systematic learning aid is still a dream of the future. Recent studies1 show that usage of available IT infrastructure in schools is below average and currently it doesn’t even meet today’s requirements. Nearly 80 percent of students in secondary schools never use computers in the core subjects such as languages, mathematics and sciences.

The college for business languages offers a variety of subjects to educate more than 600 students as foreign language secretaries and correspondents. In addition it is a vocational school for European correspondence. The Friedrich List School in Berlin has opposed this trend of none or substandard IT equipment for quite some time. Computer labs are used for teaching and students work independently at around 200 seats in 9 classrooms.

Administrative cost for PCs is reduced significantly

Managing and supporting all PCs was a growing challenge for the school’s IT staff, as the time and efforts to do this were getting out of hand. In addition they wanted to bring their IT infrastructure up-to-date. With the installation of a desktop virtualization solution the school was hoping for a more efficient use of the existing IT systems as well as modernizing the computer labs. During their search for a virtualization solution the IT solution provider F&M Computer Systemhaus GmbH introduced them to the NComputing product range. Since first conversations with F&M in 2009, the school has now been using NComputing’s desktop virtualization solution for 3 years. So far more than 120 seats in 7 labs have been deployed.

F&M advised Friedrich List School during deployment and operation of the infrastructure and took over the ongoing support.

“Reducing administrative cost for the individual seats as much as possible was our main driver in this project.” Matthias Mache, Head of School Secretary at Friedrich List School explains. “We wanted to focus on 1 or 2 servers and no longer have to set up and manage individual PCs.” Today’s PCs are so powerful that most applications only use a fraction of their capacity. Desktop virtualization makes use of a PC’s excess capacity and allows several users to utilize it simultaneously. Each seat looks like an individual PC workspace with a monitor, keyboard and mouse. They are sharing a total of 3 servers and are connected to a client device which is a zero management client. Once deployed there are no applications, software or drivers to manage on the device.. This reduces the need for repairs and maintenance.

In several phases, F&M installed a total of 120 L300 client devices in the school’s computer labs to replace individual PCs. All seats are connected through the vSpace server platform which gives central management and control. The Friedrich List School uses 3 servers running vSpace on MS Windows Server 2008 R2 with a capacity for about 60 L300 clients each.

Virtualization scales

Since implementing NComputing’s virtualization platform Friedrich List School has seen positive changes. L300 devices are a hardware alternative requiring only a fraction of management and support efforts. The devices use less than 5 Watt which drastically reduces power consumption compared to PCs and dissipate almost no heat. The existing IT infrastructure is used more efficiently while offering the users a consistent hardware and software platform. The overall cost per seat can be reduced by more than 75% when compared to PCs. The vSpace server can be integrated in the existing IT infrastructure very easily, while the majority of the hardware gets replaced by NComputing’s small and very robust thin clients. Friedrich List School benefits from reduced maintenance cost and can use IT staff’s time for different tasks (more efficiently). In addition accessing applications becomes easier and less complex for the students.

Expectations of the IT department for easier manageability have been fully met so far. As a next step, all seats in all labs will be switched to L300 clients. “Another important project is still open” Mache adds. “ We also plan to virtualize our 2 language labs in the near future.”