It's no secret that many schools and districts in America are severely underfunded. Despite being the best way to guarantee an educated and prosperous populace, education in America has gone through some serious budget cuts since the recession in 2008. In fact, a review of the 2013-2014 school year by state found that 35 states are providing less funding per student than they did before the recession. And while this needs to be worked on at a governmental policy level, as it stands, schools have to make due with what they have.
That being said, costs need to be cut where they can. With this in mind, virtualization of computer and IT systems within schools is emerging as an effective way to use a budget effectively while still providing the technological education necessary to thrive in the modern world.
Virtualization: What is it and how is it cost-effective for schools?
In order to grasp why virtualization is so beneficial for the education system, it's important to fully understand what it is. Basically, there are two types of virtualization. The first has to do with a school's use of servers. Server virtualization allows a single physical server to act as multiple by housing many virtual ones in one machine.
This has a dual effect in terms of cost-cutting. First, it cuts down on the physical costs of multiple servers. With machines with zero VMs, 95 percent of a server's capacity isn't being used in the current model. If schools were to virtualize, their hardware costs in terms of servers would plummet as they began to use servers more effectively and efficiently.
Server virtualization would also reduce costs by allowing different school districts to share files more easily. As new instructional materials are distributed, sharing of these materials in a virtual environment is typically as simple as a file copy operation.
The second common type of virtualization is that of the desktop. As knowledge of computers becomes more and more necessary to function within the modern world, classrooms will need to continue to add them into curricula. As this happens, students will need a desktop specific to their classes and their schedule. Before virtualization, a student would need to be given a specific laptop if the school wished for them to have a desktop catered to the student's needs in each of their classrooms.
However, desktop virtualization allows for a student's workplace to follow them from class to class without the necessity of a specific laptop assigned to them. This practice also allows for a greater safety in terms of the students files in a disaster recovery scenario. If a computer the student is working on crashes or stops working for whatever reason, their entire desktop can be moved from one work station to another without any level of difficulty. This not only saves money in terms of technical support, as a student who can't access their files would need help or risk missing the day's lesson, but it also saves the headache of having to start from scratch.