Indian Schools Deploy Virtual Desktops to Cut Costs

Schools in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh have deployed NComputing virtual desktops technology, which distributes the power of a PC across a number of users.

The project, commissioned in November, aimed to bring computer training and e-learning to 5,000 government schools with 1.8 million students. Four months later, the schools have each been equipped with a computer lab with the hardware and software, trained instructors and a reliable power supply, NComputing said on Monday.

PCs currently in the market are so powerful that the vast majority of students only use a small fraction of the computer's capacity, according to the company. Its strategy is to utilize the excess capacity in a PC by sharing it among a number of users. As the client device is not the PC, but a monitor with keyboard and mouse, the economics of delivering computing to users changes dramatically, according to the company.

NComputing said in October that it would be using a version of its technology that would be priced at US$70 per seat, and in addition provide savings in electricity costs. A full deployment including shared cost of the computer, monitor, keyboard and peripherals cost would be closer to $200.

The systems run on the Microsoft Windows Server operating system and use Microsoft's Office Suite.

A number of technology companies including Intel and the One Laptop Per Child association are targeting specialized products at price-sensitive emerging markets.

The Indian government has said it has a prototype of a low-cost access and computing device for education purposes that can run the office suite from OpenOffice.org, besides offering users the ability to do browsing. The device, whose full specifications are still not available, is likely to be priced initially at $20 to $30, with plans to bring the price down to $10 at high volumes, an official in India's Department of Higher Education said earlier this month.

NComputing said it is working with nearly 15 states in India to pilot or implement its virtual desktop computing technologies.

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