Slowing the Technology Replacement Merry-Go-Round

Recently I attended several different meetings with a similar story line. School district A, B, and C had each purchased a lot of computers in a given year. Think of it as an acquisition ‘bubble’. Now, 5 or 6 years down the line, these machines were becoming more and more obsolete and needed to be replaced.

The problem?
Although they had the funding in the year they bought them, the current budget would not accommodate such a large replacement purchase.

The solution?
Limp along with obsolete computers….

…or ‘Virtualize’ the old machines and prolong their useful life cycle for a few more years.

How does this work?
Simple, really. Move the applications that would normally run on the old and obsolete computers to brand new applications servers.

When a student or teacher sits at the old computer and begins to go about their business, there is no indication that the software they are using isn’t running on the physical machine at which they are sitting. To the end-user, they experience their familiar, ‘old dog’ of a computer, running like a brand new one.

Why does the old computer run so well?
End-users are utilizing the keyboard, mouse, and display as they always have; but the software and processing is running on powerful, new servers housed somewhere else on the network. In reality, they are actually working on ‘virtualized’ desktops.

Virtualizing your environment can prolong the useful life of your technology investment for several years. If you are presently on a 5 year replacement cycle, you might be able to move to a 7 year cycle. If you are on a 7 year cycle, then you can move to an 8 or 9 year cycle. Doing this is an enormous cost savings and allows you to slow down the never ending ‘merry go round’ of Purchase, Obsolescence, and Replacement.

In addition, once you have purchased the application servers and ‘virtualized’ your network, when you eventually do replace the obsolete computers, the infrastructure (App Servers, etc.) for the brand new computers is already in place.

There are many important reasons to consider the emerging paradigm of virtualized, server-based computing; but none is so universally beneficial as keeping the “old dogs” (think Pentium III’s) relevant, useful, and performing like new; for as long as possible.

The less equipment we have to replace, the more resources will be available for expanding access, acquiring educational software, creating ubiquitous wireless environments, and dozens of other important projects.



2 thoughts on “Slowing the Technology Replacement Merry-Go-Round

  1. Might I also suggest moving to an open source office suite, i.e. Open Office.

    I was at a county wide meeting of tech directors and several proudly announced they had upgraded their district computers to Microsoft Office 2007. There was really nothing wrong with 2002, but I guess they felt Bill needed a bigger boat or another house. I wish they had gone to Open Office and saved that money for SMARTboards or something else.

  2. Jim,
    I agree that as k-12 school resources continue to be stressed…more and more schools will look for alternatives to Office and other expensive ‘best practices’ that seemed ‘no brainers’ in the past.

    The problem with best practices is that they slow down the emergence of new paradigms.



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