of Educational Services of America (ESA), parent company of Ombudsman Educational Services and Spectrum Center Schools
and programs, was recently interviewed by Sarah Rich of "Government Technology" during last week's Citrix Industry Analyst event.
Alan Watson, CIO of the ESA, said the program started using Citrix about three years ago with virtual desktops.
staff became familiar with virtual computing through ESA's
data center, since the company is operating a private Citrix cloud
"As with everything in education, you have to go slowly," Watson
"You have to prove that it works."
shifted away from using PCs in its learning centers and began to transition to the use of thin clients.
no longer has had to put Microsoft Windows software and other products in its existing computing environment, and is finishing the conversion later this year.
said shifting to a virtualized environment was the best way to address the ESA's
small IT staff.
After developing a comfort level with the virtualized desktops, the ESA
began to introduce apps to its virtualized platform - apps accessible from any device that students would use to complete course curricula.
With the cloud technology students can use their device of choice, such as a laptop or tablet.
said many of ESA's students can't afford higher-end tablets, so the company issues computing devices to the majority of its students.
Because software use requirements can vary from school district to school district, Watson
said the cloud has helped the ESA test and deploy software within days as opposed to weeks or months, like the program had done in the past.
Besides what Watson says is slower-than-ideal rollout of technology in education, he
didn't face challenges when deploying the cloud.
The initial million-dollar rollout may seem like a hefty price tag, particularly with similar technology being developed specifically for education.
said costs incurred in the past when purchasing new PCs made it more cost effective for the ESA
to switch to thin clients.