As we moved forward with our project plan and execution, we quickly discovered we were on the right track. Each successful milestone resulted in new opportunities for us to explore additional ways we could leverage shared resources to benefit our students, teachers and schools.

A significant return on investment was seen pretty early on in our collaboration. Our partners NetApp and MCPc were able to show us how to use deduplication and provisioning to extend the life of the storage we purchased. It became clear to us that the storage we expected to only last for five years would be able to serve us much beyond that point.

One of the most significant enhancements was the benefit we received from working as a cohesive team. Job turnover in one technology center was backfilled by employees from the other. By standardizing on NetApp storage across the technology centers, there was no learning curve. Our technology centers have been able to work together to develop back-up strategies to help improve service for all of the school districts. Additionally, the ability to migrate between data stores has enabled us to create a much more robust virtualized environment.

Best Practices

Together, we learned a valuable lesson: To successfully collaborate on non-traditional models of IT, our service delivery had just as much to do with these intangible elements as with the technology solutions we sought to provide. Knowing we couldn’t deliver on the vision by doing it alone, our focus and understanding of these critical items resulted in a successful partnership – and a fulfilled commitment to our students and staff.

We believe we make a strong case for thinking outside of the traditional IT program box when it comes to delivering IT services and solutions to your schools. Start with a vision, create a collective mission and use those two anchors to help you overcome the objections along the way.

Joe Prchlik, Director of Operations and Technology, Northwest Ohio Computer Association (NWOCA) and Michael Struck, Director of IT Infrastructure and Development, Tri-Rivers Educational Computer Association (TRECA).