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CLOUD COMPUTING - OUTSOURCING ORGANIZATION'S COMPUTING NEEDS  

Nickolas Carr (2008).  The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, From Edison to Google

Large manufacturers have long given up the practice of providing their own power; they just plugged into the electrical grid. According to the author, the same is happening in our need and use of computing technology: We are moving or will move from personal computers to terminal devices like thin clients, and all end users, be they companies or individuals, will outsource servers and storage. Such a transition will further be driven and expedited by economical benefits.

Implications for the Garvey School District:  The district will research and evaluate alternatives of e-mail service including outsourcing it. Besides economical incentive, it will take into consideration factors including data security, tech support, reliability, etc.

Cameron Sturdevant (2010).  Dumping on the Cloud. eWeek, April 5, 2010, p. 24.

Cloud computing is web-based processing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices such as smart phones on demand over the Internet. With public cloud available in the market, corporate as well as governmental organizations have choice to outsource IT, who typically provides ongoing maintenance of the hardware/software to meet the business computing needs.

The author argues that unless they are building and running servers, most organizations should outsource IT and get back to their core business.  Since it’s better to stay ahead of an innovation wave than to be overwhelmed by it, he advises IT managers to “truly become business enabler.” He encourages the IT manager to be “the trusted adviser who looks for opportunities to optimize current business operations for cloud enabler.”

Implications for the Garvey School District:  Cloud computing has gain popularity. Many schools of this district have opted for web-based solutions for their learning needs. The next step is for the district to outsource its IT services in view of its limited resource and cost-effectiveness.

OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE  

John K. Waters (2007). Opening a New Door. THE Journal, August, 2007

This article discusses the increasing presence of open source in public schools in recent years due to its potential cost savings and the growing number of educational applications. The author also points out that “the force that may ultimately push K-12 to a tipping point … is peer pressure.”

Implications for the Garvey School District:  The use of open source software, as discussed above, is included in the Plan. To ensure an efficient and effective implementation, the District will seek opportunities of collaboration and partnership with other school districts.  
David Rapp (2008).  Open Minded Schools. Administrator, June 2008, pp. 49-50.

No longer is the question whether the district or school should use open-source software; it is how. Administrators nationwide are raving about low cost, and ease of use when switching over to open-source software. But are you ready to go-off brand? The author goes over the pros and cons, and the transition might not be for everyone – at least for now. But it is certainly not impossible.

Implications for the Garvey School District:  Teachers are the key in bringing open source software to the classroom. The plan calls for professional development on Open Office, other open source applications and on-demand office productivity software like Google Docs.

CLOUD COMPUTING & OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE  

Cindy Waxer (2010).  Better Together. Government TEehnology, December 2010, pp. 14-17.

Both cloud computing and open source software promise cutting IT costs, decrease vendor dependence and reduce software licensing fees. Governmental agencies, however, should think twice before placing sensitive data in the cloud. Often, offsetting open source's cost savings is the need of bring in consultant or increase staff.

Implications for the Garvey School District:  In adopting cloud computing and open source software, the district should evaluate cloud security and total ownership of open source software.

E-MAIL, AS PART OF UNIFIED COMMUNICATION
Andy Opsahl (2010).  Clash of Cloud: Government Custemers of Microsoft and Google Cloud Computing Services Explain Their Preferences. Government TEehnology, December 2010, pp. 54-55

Microsoft's cloud e-mail comes with a "fat client" version, which is downloaded to the client workstation, saves e-mails to the local hard drive and is viewable offline. With Google, users access e-mails via some web browser or use "thin-client" version remotely; Google offers an applet called Gears, which saves the e-mails to the local computer's hard drive for offline viewing. Microsoft, using fat client applications, enables more responsive commands than Google, which deploys browser-access applications. Google, however, have more expansive browser functionality than Microsoft.

Implications for the Garvey School District:  Even Microsoft has turned from internally hosted Exchange to cloud e-mail. That suggests cloud e-mail should be GSD's choice in its effort to upgrade its e-mail service.

Russell Nichols (2010), Raising the Cloud. Government Technology, Novemer , 2010, p. 37.

Cloud solutions including web-accessible e-mail promise low costs, reduced redundancy, greater flexibility and higher speeds. Governmental organizations have been cautious of it due to privacy and security. Minnesota launches landmark Microsoft cloud collation. To address the privacy and security issues, Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) will be delivered through a direct connection to Minnesota's secure network. No Microsoft employees can access it.

Implications for the Garvey School District:  If the District chooses Microsoft e-mail solution, it will have options to host the e-mail service internally or outsource it. The latter should be closely scrutinized against Google's e-mail solution in terms of pros and cons.
 
THIN CLIENTS AND VIRTUAL DESKTOPS  

"Don't go with the flow. Only dead fish go with the flow. Desktop virtualization is proven, it works, it's well documented, and school that aren't doing it are missing the boat." -- Greg Parch, Hudson Falls Central School District, New York

Chris Preimesberger (2011), No Virtual Virtues in Client-Side VDI. eWeek, April 18, 2011, p. 20.

Client-side VDI differs from server-based VDI in that each actual client, as well as the server, holds a VDI agent, which is either a hypervisor or the like or a simpler connector to the server. With that agent, it does not affect a file in process when an Internet connection is lost. The user can keep working on the file on the client. When the connection is restored, the client and server will sync up to the most recent version of the file.

Implications for the Garvey School District:  The server-based VDI must assume a zero-down network, which the District currently cannot afford it. That makes the client-side VDI very desirable and should earn the District's attention.

Cameron Sturdevant (2010), Virtual Desktops in 2011. eWeek, December 6, 2010, p. 33.

Virtual desktops will sweep -- but not until the costs of virtualization of the end-user computing devices drop furthe. As the author points out, "IT managers need to see these costs go below the traditional physical-only deployment model so that hard to measure benefits -- including centralized patching and maintenance -- can shine through."

Implications for the Garvey School District:  The district should continue searching and negotiating the price for the most affordable VDI model

Jennifer Demski (2010), Taking the Plunge. THE Journal, November/December 2010, pp. 20-26.

Virtual computing can take some geting used to. Three districts that have made the leap from conventional desktop PCs offer firsthand advice: Byron Union School District, CA selected Wyse Technology to provide VMware View thin clients. The greatest challenge the district had with the district's faculty and staff who was adapting from working on a personal computer to working to a virtual desktop.

Little Chute Area School District, WI concurs the importance of communicating with users of the "paradigm shift" when switching to Pano Logic's "zero client.," which went further than thin client. It simply employs a small box through which peripheral input devices connect and communicate to a Windows desktop OS running on a server located at the central office. The district stress the need of running a smaller pilot to iron out the bugs and test the infrastructure before full implementation.

Hudson Falls Central School District, NY was aware that the 2,400 student district couldn't financially support an IT team required for 1-to-1 ratio between computers using traditional PCs. It has been made possible, though, through ClassLink, a server based application, which manages log-in, applications, printing, and desktop images of 1,800 HP thin clients.

Implications for the Garvey School District:  The district must do a lot more prep work with the end users to give them a better understanding of the benefits IT managers see on the back end and use pilots to fix potential glitches. It might also explore and acquire VDI management software as an alternative to upsizing the support staff.

Matthew D. Sarrel (2010), VDI Promises an Pitfalls. eWeek, March 1, 2010, pp. 14-18.

While IT departments nationwide embrace VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure), the author cautions the user acceptance. VDI will remove personal computers from the users. It might also slow down the work given the applications run on the server instead of local device. The IT department must watch closely the user experience during the pilot phase of implementation. The users also need to be educated about the powerful disaster recovery solution and expedited problem resolution among the strategic benefits.

Implications for the Garvey School District:  The district will research and plan VDI carefully before starting pilot at a small scale. ETO will watch closely user experience and ensure VDI will not shortchange the users in terms of their computing needs at work.

Hillton Collins (2008), Virtual Frontier. Government Technology, November 2008, pp. 26-29.

Virturalization has grown from servers to clients. In its native format, virturalization software is installed on a computer, which then allows it to run more than one operating system. The more common choice is for a server to host virtual machines that users access remotely on some end-user devices – be a desktop PC, a laptop or a thin client. When a user accesses a virtual desktop by logging on a end-user device, the server delivers an “image” to the end-user device. The image contains the operating system as if the user installed it on that end-user device.

Implications for the Garvey School District:  Desktop virtualization has almost become a must for the district IT in view of the rapid growth of computing devices in number and the leveling off or shrinkage of the tech support in the past decade. The business advantages are multi-folds: powerful disaster recovery solution, expedite tech support, saving in energy as well as human resources, etc. The plan will mandate research and pilot of the desktop virtualization.
 
WIRELESS COMPUTING  

Wayne Rash (2010).  Enterprise Wireless: It’s All about Work. eWeek, July 19, 2010, pp. 16-19.

With 802.11n ratified and 3G evolving into 4G, wireless communication is reaching the point at which schools can depend on it for fast, reliable communications. The ability of 802.11n WiFi allows students and staff to be mobile within a building and have reliable, fast connections. 4G WAN communications are starting to appear and promise reliable, fast communication will also exist outside of schools or offices.

Implications for the Garvey School District:  The plan will strategically add 802.11n APs at the schools. It will not only increase the density of the APs. It will also improve the capacity of the APs and the reliabiilty. We will see the performance of the district/school wireless network escalate.

MOBILE COMPUTING DEVICES   

Wayne Rash (2010).  What’s Next Step. eWeek, June 7, 2010, pp. 39-42.

The category of laptop computers encompasses notebooks, netbooks, and tablets. It might or might not include iPad like products, which are a content-consumption “appliance”, but conceivably will evolve into a computing device of its own category or sub-category. The major changes coming in laptops will be in the choice of processors, the type of storage and the means of user input.

A typical notebook comes with a processor, the capacity of which often exceeds the need of a business user. In response to the change arise the Netbooks, currently are informally differentiated by the use of Intel’s low-power Atom processors on them.  The battery life has always a challenge to laptops. Solid-state disks consume less power, which in turns allows for greater battery life. Further enhanced by better battery technology, we will see the battery life improve to as much as 24 hours between charges.

The slick interface, the light weight and the longer battery life of the iPad have raised those expectations for future tablets. Those tablets to come into the market will be equipped with touch screens. Some of them might still include a stylus and a keyboard at expense of portability to ease data entry and content creation.

As wireless infrastructure grows, these mobile computers, which typically have integrated WiFi component for wireless communication within the enterprise, will acquire built-in wide-area wireless support. Laptops with 3G and 4G will grow in popularity. The wireless capabilities will include GPS functionality that will enable GIS software and will also help in recovering lost or stolen mobile devices.

Implications for the Garvey School District:  Mobile end-user computing devices will increase their presence in the district as planned. When possible, they will replace the desktops in classrooms. Even administrative staff might enjoy the portability of a netbook, which may be enhanced by an external flat panel screen, a USB mouse and a keyboard.

John K. Waters (2010).  Enter the iPAD (or Not?). THE Journal, June/July, 2010, pp. 38-45.

The iPadIt was born into a thriving software ecosystem, established largely by the iPod Touch and the iPhone. It's the volume and vibrancy of these tools that is pulling in K-12 users. It effectively redefines the category of the tablet computing devices -- less a computer and more a content consumer, which provides a way to deliver digital content and tap interactive software and website and as far as education is concerned, engages students in learning. Content creation, however, is done on higher-end desktops and laptops; collaboration and research are performed on mid-range desktops and laptops; browsing and editing are jobs for netbooks. K-12 schools are more likely to be determining how this touchable form factor complements, instead of displaces, other keyboard-bound devices in their overall student-computing strategy.

Implications for the Garvey School District:  The district just purchased a first and only iPad for a special education student, who can take advantage of the touchscreen and vibrant software apps available on iPad. The requisition was driven by legal compliance and was not based on technology. Indeed, until iPads settle on its specs as an end-user computing devices and clearly distinguish themselves from touch screen netbooks, their presence in this Windows dominating district is dubious -- not to mention their cost: iPads are just too expensive, as a content consumption appliance, particularly for budget-strapped K-12 districts.

ONE-TO-ONE STUDENT TO COMPUTER  

Eamonn O’Donovan (2009).  Are One-to-One Laptop Programs Worth the Investment? District Administration, February 2009, pp. 18-22.

The author rightfully points out that the one-to-one laptop program does not necessarily improve student test scores, at least not in short term. Then why the investment? He only answers indirectly: A one-to-one laptop program “may help the students get to the next level.” He then shares his observation: A successful program requires more than financing. In the end of the article, he provides a very down-to-the-earth advice on the technical needs in the implementation of the one-to-one laptop program.

Implications for the Garvey School District:  The district will continue its effort of increasing the students’ access to computing devices. The goal is for students to be familiar with and master the intelligent tool and use it to complete their education and start their career in the high tech era.

Charlene O'Hanlon (2009).  Safe at Home. THI Journal, October 2009, pp. 32-33.

The article reports the failure to plan for mischievous browsing of student users threatened the 1-to-1 effort of a Virginia school district, and stresses the importance for the districts to combine high-tech safeguards with user eduction when rolling out similar programs.

Implications for the Garvey School District:  The district has quite a few high tech tools in existence (web content filter) or in requisition (PC system management application), which will provide the needed protection to 1-to-1 program, if implemented. It has also been exploring mobile computing device tracking systems. Outside of the 1-to-1 program, the district might also consider the use of the low-tech laser-etching of large, bold print of district name and phone number on laptops to effectively reduce "their eBay value to zero.

SCHOOL INTEROPERABILITY FRAMEWORK (SIF)

Jacqueline Heinze (2010).  What’s Your Platform? So Many Schools, So Many Apps. How to Keep Track. Administrator, May/June 2010, pp. 47-48.

The School Interoperability Framework (SIF) Association (SIFA) is a non-profit group which sets standards, so different school software programs can share information. The platform-neutral, vendor-independent rules and definitions cover more than 3,200 software vendors, school districts, and other organizations. The undertaking is complex. It requires teamwork, communication, visionary leadership, and commitment.

Implications for the Garvey School District:  The need of an effective tool to manage the data of various software applications have increased rapidly. The plan will kick off the research, evaluate, budget for and draft a plan for implementing an SIF solution. It will also require that any software to be acquired in the future must be SIF compliant.

John K. Waters (2009).  SIF 3.0. THE Journal, August 2009, pp. 27-32.

School Interoperability Framework (SIF), a specification for data sharing among education software applications, is designed to improve the quality of the district's data and save money. The SIF architecture relies on a software server called a Zone Integration Server (ZIS) as the data-integration broker among SIF-compliant applications, and message gateways called agents, pieces of software that exist either internal to an application or installed next to it.

SIF 3.0 is not here yet, but it's on the way. And what it has in store -- full support for web services -- promises to throw open new avenues of data integration for school districts. SIF Association (SIFA) is simply opening SIF to web services as well as SIF agents. "The changes planned for SIF 3.0 are evolutionary, not revolutionary." The school districts should not wait for web services to become a part of the SIF implementation specification.
Implications for the Garvey School District:  Currently, the district uses quite a few educational as well as administrative software applications, some of them are delivered over the Internet. Since Aeries, the student information system that the district just adopted, outsources the SIF to CSPI and requires additional cost to implement SIF on Aeries, it is not SIF compliant. The horizontal data interoperability is zero. It compromises the data quality in terms of delay and inconsistency -- not to mention the cost of additional resources spent on manually, in most cases, sharing bringing the student data from Aeries to other applications and if any, vice versa. OARS, the student achievement data analysis system, is developing its SIF agent. Given its critical role in the district data-driven decision making, that Aeries be SIF interoperable becomes urgent.