How this school district cut its operating budget in half with VDI on AWS

 In AWS, Case Studies, Cloud

Many K-12 school districts face the same problem: How can they maintain application performance and offer the same level of operational efficiencies for students, faculty, and staff in the face of obvious budgetary constraints?

Fast approaching the end of renewal for its on-premises servers, one Connecticut school district was no different. It needed to update its current Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). This wouldn’t be cheap – not with 1,300 students and 120 teachers at the high school alone, and 4,200 students and 1,200 staff members in the district overall.

After running the numbers, the district estimated that its on-premises VDI upgrade would cost $350,000 in capital expenses over two years, with an additional $30,000 a year in operating expenses for licensing and support of the hardware. The on-premises VDI upgrade also allowed concurrent connections, 50 of which were on a cluster with advanced GPUs and required maintenance 12 hours per month between updates and unexpected errors.

There had to be a better way.

The push to the public cloud in education

Rather than settling for this massive expense and a business-as-usual approach, the district’s IT director saw an opportunity to re-evaluate the district’s IT budget and take advantage of new technology.

Back in 2016, the district evaluated Amazon Web Services (AWS) solutions with an architect and began implementing small features of AWS Workspaces and later AppStream 2.0 on its own.

Their IT director found advances in the two services provided an affordable, robust, and reliable solution. And as a strong advocate for public cloud consumption in the education space, he believed this was exactly what the district needed.

However, these services were still new to the K-12 environment, and the school district couldn’t handle such a large-scale deployment alone. It was looking for an experienced partner that’d done this sort of job before, could validate its previous implementation, and would audit for further improvements and adjustments to meet its technology needs.

It turned to SHI.

The benefits of VDI in AWS

Prior to deploying VDI in the AWS public cloud, SHI first evaluated the school district’s environment.

It factored in everything from its desired performance metrics to how much it wanted to pay per user per hour. SHI also determined that a cluster would work for the group based on how many virtual desktops it wanted to deploy.

SHI also incorporated single sign-on through the district’s Google authentication, factored in its active directory to Google as well as the Chromebooks the teachers use.

The engagement was a huge success. By deploying VDI in AWS, SHI helped the school district cut its annual operating budget in half and save 12 hours a month that would have been spent on system maintenance and updates.

Best of all, the district was able to use its freed up operating expenses, as well $200,000 of the initial capital costs, to reinvest in its network, infrastructure, and other critical projects.

Looking ahead to a brighter future

This school district could’ve stuck with the status quo and upgraded its on-premises VDI. Instead, it opted for another way.

By working with SHI, it was able to optimize its AWS Desktop as a Service (DaaS) architecture and deployment and meet its performance and availability goals. At the same time, it greatly decreased operating and capital expenses and used those savings to reinvest in other areas of need.

That’s how you turn an obstacle like budgetary constraints into an opportunity.

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