Virtualization To Provide 1.8 Million Students With Computer Access

NComputing and other companies are providing desktops with virtualization software to power to 5,000 schools in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

K.C. Jones, Contributor

October 13, 2008

3 Min Read

Virtualization will give 1.8 million students in India access to computers, according to the company providing the technology.

NComputing announced Monday that it would supply computing power to 5,000 schools in the state of Andhra Pradesh, the largest and most highly populated state in southern India. The company is one of several IT businesses providing low-cost technology to build computer labs.

NComputing creates multiple desktops on a single PC so several users can access and share unused capacity. Its X300 system, chosen by Andhra Pradesh, allows seven users to share one PC. Each lab will contain two desktops with virtualization software, which will enable 10 thin clients with their own monitors, keyboards, and mice. The software works with Linux and Windows, which serves as the operating system for the labs.

NComputing said its system takes advantage of the fact that most PC users consume up to 2% of the capacity of their PCs, with peaks up to 20%, through multimedia applications, e-mail, and Web browsing.

NComputing said that its system would save the state $20 million and 90% of the electricity required to power PCs for all of the students.

"At about $70 per seat, our solution is the ideal platform to enable schools, businesses, and governments to maximize their PC investment," Stephen Dukker, chairman and CEO of NComputing, said in a statement."

Students will use the labs to learn about computer skills and office productivity tools like spreadsheets and word processing, as well as core subjects like reading and math.

"India holds a strong position in the knowledge economy today due to the country's consistent investment in education over the years," Javier Arrupea Gitlin, director of Microsoft's Unlimited Potential Group, said in a statement. "In India and around the globe, Microsoft is committed to enabling affordable access to computing for education. Through Microsoft's Unlimited Potential commitment, we are continually looking for innovative and affordable technology solutions that can sustain social and economic progress."

"With the modernization of India's economy, students are eager to learn the computer skills that will prepare them for the digital workplace -- but most government school students have never even had the chance to type on a keyboard or click a mouse," said Mr. Raj Shah, chief marketing officer of NComputing. "This computerization project shows how forward-thinking governments can use proven and practical technologies like NComputing to bridge the digital divide."

The state government has outsourced the whole project for the first five years in a model called "Build, Operate, and Transfer." During that time, the companies install, staff, and manage the labs, while ensuring that they meet performance benchmarks. The arrangement allows staff time to train in lab management and computer-aided teaching.

Virtualization is certain to become ubiquitous in the data center and on enterprise desktop deployments, but the road to comprehensive, smoothly managed environments could be bumpy. InformationWeek has produced an Analytics virtualization report assessing the current state of virtualization management from the perspective of business technology professionals, offering in-depth analysis and user perspective. Download the report to help plan or evaluate virtualization at your organization (registration required).

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