Schools embrace virtualization, address bandwidth needs

Wilton Public Schools is making efforts to bring more virtualized technology to the district and address bandwidth needs, according to the Fall Educational Technology Report, which  Technology Director Mathew Hepfer, Superintendent Kevin Smith and Assistant Superintendent Charles Smith presented to the Board of Education during its Dec. 4 meeting.

The district plans to move away from large deployments of desktop computers and “move towards a more mobile ‘ready access’ future,” by more than tripling the number of virtual desktops, which,  according to the report, “can be accessed on any computer with an internet connection and run all virtual applications from the server.”

By moving towards virtualization, the life of existing equipment can be extended from three up to five years, according to the report, allowing the district to “move away from continuing to need to replace out-of-warranty machines.”

Wilton Public Schools will pilot 80 virtual desktop machines this year, giving selected users in each building the opportunity to” test out different applications in a virtual environment on different types of devices,” according to the report. Two virtual desktop labs at Wilton High School are also being piloted this year.

Bandwidth needs

Due to “significantly” increased bandwidth needs, the district has  more than tripled the bandwidth of data that flows through its network over the past three years, according to the report, which points out that an average of 1,200 wireless devices at Middlebrook and more than 1,700 devices at the high school are connected to the network each day.

To support the current needs and prepare for future expansion and use, network switches across the district need to be upgraded “to be able to handle more bandwidth and provide Power over Ethernet (PoE), which will allow “better support of wireless access points now and with future upgrades, as well as to allow us to upgrade our phone system,” according to the report.

The school district has been working with the town and library to upgrade its outdated phone system, according to the report, and PoE switches are needed in order to “realize the future savings with Voice Over Internet Protocol technology.”

“In our virtual server stack, we will need to invest in more memory and licensing to support the expansion of our virtual desktops across the district,” states the report.

“We need to expand the number of virtual desktops because we intend to get out of the cycle of replacing every desktop computer in the district every four years.”

Based on its needs and “vision for technology,” the district has planned technology projects designed to maintain and improve infrastructure, enhance and improve teaching and learning, and provide staff development in technology, according to the report.