This week Google and VMware announced a new strategic partnership. The interesting thing is that Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is already using Google and VMware as partners. We have purchased approximately 10,000 Chromebooks to promote Personalized Learning for our 35,000 students. For students, the Chromebooks, with their web-only interface, meet their needs for Blended Learning applications like Achieve 3000 and Google Apps. However, as we look at the need for (shall I say) legacy Windows applications and the needs of teachers and staff, Google Chromebooks have fallen short. Until now. This is where VMware comes in. VMware, along with Citrix and Microsoft, have long offered Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) where users run an application to connect to a remote server to do work. OUSD currently uses traditional VDI for approximately 100 users. This has been complex and resource intensive while not a cost saver with expenses for licensing, computers or terminals, networking, and servers. But that is now all simplified and cheaper with HTML5 connections on Chromebooks to VMware along with options for back end all-in-one solutions and DaaS – Desktop as a Service.
OUSD is going to pilot this with 500 teachers and staff. Each will get a Chromebook and be able to use their existing Active Directory account to connect to a full Windows instance via VMware. Here they will get access to the full Microsoft Office suite,, windows applications for our student information and finance systems, as well as any “legacy” application that is not delivered on a web page. We pay less than $300 per Chromebook, fully managed, etched for security, and configured. With our Microsoft volume licensing the cost of a fully managed, easy to support portable system comes to less than $400. VDI heretofore had expensive and complex back end server and configuration requirements. Running email likewise had the same problems. That is why most school district Information Technology (IT) departments have moved to hosted email like Google Apps or Microsoft 365. Similarly Desktop as a Service (DaaS) will simplify VDI for IT departments. Currently OUSD is evaluating DaaS offered by Desktone (recently acquired by VMware, themselves). For more control and cost savings, we are looking at Nutanix which will take our complex multi-device VDI environment and replace it with a box. I think of it as DaaS-in-a-box. As we scale, we simple add more boxes.