I think it’s important to make the benefits of virtualizing your aging computer inventory more concrete, so here are few rough (very rough) numbers to bring it into focus.
Let’s say you have 1500 computers in your district and that a significant portion of them need to be replaced. Best Practice says you should be replacing 20% of your inventory per year; but for the sake of this post let’s make that number 500.
You go out and buy 500 desktops at $900 per unit. (Yes, I know, you can do better than that; but this is for illustration purposes only.)
Total cost of your purchase: $450,000. (Let’s leave servers, installation, OS, etc. out of it for now.)
On the other hand, you can shift your networking paradigm and decide to virtualize the old machines. This “emerging” Best Practice recommends leaving the old machines in place and purchasing one application server for every 50 computers. This would require that you buy 10 application servers.
Total cost of servers = $40,000. (Once again, let’s leave installation, OS and other miscellaneous items out of it for now.) By the way, your existing network servers and storage remain in place
Estimated one time cost: $38,00
Lets’ be generous and throw miscellaneous items into the mix. Not required, but recommended would be the purchase of specialized software (I like Launchpad) that provides a way to manage the virtualized network, as well as a neat, personal desktop. Let’ add a few Citrix licenses for home users since that allows a more forgiving and flexible conduit to the school network. (Yes! vitualizing the environment opens home access. BTW- everyone uses the same personal desktop at home, too.)
Total cost with extras thrown in: $100,000.
Compare that with the cost of the old paradigm.
The truth is that you will eventually have to replace your old computers. The merry-go-round doesn’t stop, it’s only slowed down a for a few years. But as I pointed out in my last post, when you do get around to replacing your 500 obsolete computers with new ones you already have 10 application servers, home access, and virtualization management software in place. You simply add your new computers into the virtualized environment.
Note that when you buy new computers, you do not have to buy full blown desktops for every situation. Having virtualized the environment lets you choose among full blown desktops, thin clients, PC’s, Mac’s, mini-notebooks, etc. Remember, they are using the servers for computing power and the personal desktop for anytime, anywhere access; so you can mix and match your environment any way you’d like.
$450,000 v $100,000 savings buys you time and creates the foundation for the future.
24x7x7 Home access becomes reality.
Easy deployment of software and software updates. (No visiting of desktops – done on servers)
Easier and more reliable technical support. (Once again, focusing on 10 servers not 500 hard drives)
Ability to easily create hybrid hardware environments. (Mac, PC, Thin Client, full desktops, laptops, mini’s)
Software license metering and reporting. (What’s being used? By whom? At what time? From where?)
Easy to use personal desktop
Is everything perfect in the virtual networking world?
No; it isn’t.
But maybe, just maybe, as our resources continue to be stretched far beyond their limits, as our nation’s economic woes impact our schools and we are asked to cut back and do more with less, as we continue to pour money into the present network ‘Best Practice’, the ‘black hole’ of distributed networking; we may be inspired to try another way of doing things.
Perhaps we are on the verge of a new Best Practice.