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Shared Resource Computing; Saving Education Budgets?

By Aaron Pearson
CTL Corporation Sr. Account Representative & HPC Product Manager

With the recent announcement by, Oregon Governor, Ted Kulongoski that a state wide 9% cut is needed for budget re-balancing; and similar economic climates across the country, public purchasing agents have been sent scrambling to reduce spending and reallocate funds where ever they can. Amidst this budgetary turmoil, IT purchasing specialists are turning, more than ever, to cost effective IT solutions to help maintain adequate computing resources. Nowhere is this more important than in the public education sector, where educators are under constant scrutiny to increase and maintain high computer to student ratios.

Small form factor netbooks and nettops have served to provide low cost computing to education for the past couple of years. However, with Microsoft Corporation’s recent launch of their Multi Point Server 2010 Operating System, schools now have yet another solution to help reduce expensive IT purchases and still maintain high levels of computing resources among students. Making use of excess processing power, Multi Point Server is a shared resource computing solution allowing one desktop computer to serve up to 10 users. For cash strapped IT budgets in the education sector, this provides schools the ability to populate computer labs and school libraries with multiple user stations at a fraction of the cost. In addition to the upfront cost savings, having one tenth of the PCs to support and maintain, this solution greatly lowers total cost of ownership for the school’s IT staff.

As with any technology, Multi Point server has its own set of pros and cons. Single point of failure and limited ability to process high end graphics throughput for multiple users are something to weigh when considering this purchase. However, balance that against greatly reduced upfront costs in the form of reduced hardware and licensing, as well as better long term total cost of owner ship and the Multi Point solution could be an attractive solution for schools in need of multiple computers on a tight budget.

While no technology is going to fit everybody’s IT needs and infrastructure, given the current status of the national and local economies, this is certainly a solution that deserves a look.