What NComputing’s X-series does is enable each PC to be virtualized so that many students can tap into the excess capacity and share it. Students attach to the shared PC with an NComputing access device, which is small, very durable and nearly indestructible for even the most challenging youngsters.
Further, these devices don’t require any support or maintenance and only the host PC requires attention. Each user’s monitor, keyboard and mouse connect to the access device, which delivers a virtual desktop via a simple connection to the shared computer. Most importantly, the technology allows for each student to still have a fast and powerful computing experience, while drastically cutting costs in a number of areas. Not only is the cost per seat a fraction of the cost of a PC, but the energy use is miniscule as well. Each NComputing access devices uses just 1 to 5 watts of energy, compared to 110 for the average PC.
Judson ISD purchased 761 new PCs, 2,283 NComputing X-series seats, and all of the peripherals and required software for just under $1.2 million. Had we gone with all PCs and purchased 3,044 computers to match our current number of computing seats, the district would have had to spend nearly $2.4 million on equipment plus another $776,000 on infrastructure upgrades. We ultimately saved almost $2 million on our computer upgrade and expansion program just on the equipment.
But while that’s a powerful number, the savings we’ve achieved doesn’t end with the purchase price. Every NComputing X-series access device, the hardware, uses just 1 watt of electricity, compared to 115 for an average PC, so we’ll continue to save year after year in reduced energy costs. It would have cost our school district $84,014 a year to power 3,044 of the older PCs.
Energy costs for that many computers were a recurring expense we had to factor into our decision just as we had to consider the cost of IT support. Our dramatic energy savings didn’t come from just upgrading the host PCs. The most dramatic energy savings came from the NComputing configuration. Had we simply purchased 3,044 new, energy efficient PCs, we would have cut our power use more than half, for a cost of $35,852 per year.
However, the mix of 761 new PCs and 2,283 NComputing X-series virtual desktops cost us just $22,661 per year in electricity, a massive reduction in energy costs but all the more exciting because it’s paying for all of that computing power. So Judson ISD’s per-seat energy cost had been $27.60 per school year and now it’s just $7.44.
The savings in support and maintenance is more difficult to calculate had we increased the number of actual PCs to 3,044. The cost of providing air conditioning for the rooms housing so many more computers is also more difficult to estimate so it’s unclear how much more money we saved. Based on the energy costs, the savings is likely significant.
The savings and reduction in energy usage we’ve achieved through our Green Computing Initiative has already earned our district recognition by the Consortium for School Networking. Judson ISD was one of the first, and the largest, school districts to earn the organization’s Green Computing Certification.
But what’s important to remember is that with the NComputing configuration, we have the same number of PCs to maintain and power as before, yet four times the number of students can now access computers and take advantage of a 21st century education.
Steve Young is the Chief Technology Officer for Judson ISD.