NComputing Device Addresses Budget and Tech Support Crunch at 3 Colleges
- By Dian Schaffhauser
A number of colleges have gone public with their deployments of the NComputing
multiuser system, among them Fresno Pacific University
in Central California, Florida Atlantic University
in southeast Florida, and Palm Beach Community College
in Florida. The NComputing access device allows a single PC to serve multiple users, each with his or her own monitor, keyboard, and mouse. The access device itself has no CPU, memory, or moving parts. The NComputing X300 model supports up to seven students sharing a single PC, while the company's L-series supports up to 31 users on a high end PC.
"We used to have 20 to 30 PCs in each of our computer labs," said Jacob Smith, technical administrator for Fresno Pacific University. "Upgrading that many PCs every three or four years would cost $24,000. But with NComputing, it's just $3,200, and we deliver the exact same user experience. Now we can upgrade more often and have greatly improved the student's perception of university technology resources."
"Maintaining and supporting that many machines was overwhelming our small IT staff," added Smith. "With NComputing, we've reduced support time by about 80 percent. Before NComputing, it would take us two days to perform upgrades in a single lab. Now, we can get the job done in as little as two hours. We have also realized some significant and unexpected benefits: because the NComputing devices don't take up any desktop space, our students have more room for books and papers. And because the devices don't generate heat, rooms are cooler and our students are more comfortable."
"NComputing has provided us substantial savings during some rough budget times," said Glen Campbell, associate director for enterprise computing services at Florida Atlantic University. "We are facing massive budget cutbacks at the same time that a lot of our older computers need to be replaced. With NComputing, we are buying 75 percent fewer computers to get the same number of seats..."
Campbell added, "Running all of our old PCs generated so much heat that our air conditioning was running continuously, and the rooms were still extremely uncomfortable. With NComputing, those rooms are now much, much cooler."
At Palm Beach Community College, said Michael Merker, director of technology infrastructure, "The number of computers supported by our IT staff has grown from 2,000 to 4,800 on four campuses. Our IT budget didn't grow at the same pace, and our 12 staff members are increasingly stretched. We also had a goal of replacing our computers every three years to stay current with technology."
The school implemented 50 NComputing stations for computer-based testing in its nursing education center. "In a traditional desktop environment, setting up those 50 stations would take a massive amount of time," said Merker. "Deploying the NComputing solution took less than 15 minutes per station to set up both the hardware and the software. With seven NComputing devices to one PC, our school saved about $50,000 for that installation alone. Better yet, installing a new test or performing maintenance takes us a fraction of the time it used to. We are standardizing on NComputing, and will be deploying it to all areas where we have large concentrations of PCs used for office applications and Internet browsing."
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.