Wyse Technology, the global leader in thin computing and client virtualization, today announced another success story at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri.   

Founded by the Jesuits in 1910, Rockhurst University is a comprehensive university that offers more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs taught by nationally-recognized faculty. Rockhurst has been ranked among the top masters’ universities in the Midwestern United States by U.S. News & World Report, and has several times been singled out by the Carnegie Foundation for its excellence in teaching.  This track record of innovative teaching is matched by a tradition of innovation in IT.  Rockhurst has been ranked among the nation’s top 30 wireless college campuses by Intel.  The university recently switched from PCs in its student labs to thin client devices from Wyse Technology. 

"We wanted to provide our students and faculty excellent computing services while cutting the costs of maintaining PCs and conserving energy," says Michael Stanclift, Network Analyst at Rockhurst.  "We believed that thin clients could be the solution on both economic and environmental fronts."

Prior to the introduction of Wyse virtual clients, Rockhurst typically replaced half of its PCs in one year, half the next, and then repeated the cycle.  Each of these two cycles would take 75% of its IT budget for that year.  This frequent replacement of PCs — and day-to-day maintenance, support, and repairs — consumed too much IT staff time and too large a share of the university’s IT budget, leaving little scope for future innovation. The IT team was eager to consider options; especially any that would contribute to the university’s efforts to minimize its carbon footprint.

"We started to think about virtualizing our desktop machines after we implemented VMware ESX and saw the benefits of virtualization within our server environment," added Stanclift.  Timelines were tight, however.  To minimize the impact on students, the Rockhurst IT team would have to complete the entire project— switching out PCs and replacing them with thin-client devices and a VDI on the back end—all during a 12-week summer vacation period. 

"We considered switching only a few labs to thin clients to start," commented Stanclift.  "We ultimately decided that from a financial standpoint and in the spirit of keeping standardization in the labs, we would take the leap and replace them all at one time. We knew that thin clients could save us in hardware costs, refresh, installation, and energy. The prediction that we’d save 80 percent of our energy costs sealed the deal with everyone who had to approve the project, so we got the green light to proceed with a complete cut-over."

The deployment of 230 Wyse virtual clients across 18 labs went very smoothly.  Stanclift and his team are now benefitting from the new economics of their virtual client implementation.  While PCs need to be replaced every four years, Wyse thin clients are likely to last six years or longer.  In addition, over a twelve-year period, this greater ease of implementation and reduction in refresh cycles is expected to save Rockhurst at least 18 weeks of staff time for 230 thin clients.

Purchasing and implementing a Wyse virtual clients costs less in hardware and staff time than purchasing and implementing a PC.  Over a twelve-year period, with the lower refresh rate of virtual clients, Rockhurst University expects to save $245,000 in hardware.  This frees much-needed funds for other IT projects and applications.

The switch to virtual clients brought immediate savings, too. "We spent a total of $155,000 on all the hardware, software, licensing, and three years of support for all aspects of the system," says Stanclift. "For the same number of PCs, over a three year period, I’d expect to pay $185,000 for hardware, software, licensing, and three years of support."

These virtual clients now serve students who need to work on specialized applications that are too expensive for them to purchase on their own, such as SPSS statistical analysis applications, Loggerpro for physics, and Mathematica, an application that helps create mathematical formulae and calculate their values.  The virtual clients in the Labs also provide access to standard computing capabilities, such as Microsoft Word and Excel and Web browsing. 

"By becoming one of the first educational institutions to fully deploy VDI to all computer labs on campus, Rockhurst University is strengthening its reputation as an innovative university," according to Maryam Alexandrian, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Channels at Wyse.  "Their investment in client virtualization has enhanced the learning environment at Rockhurst and help them to continue to attract the best students and faculty."

Concluded Stanclift:  "Our virtual client implementation has achieved its goals and exceeded our expectations.  Virtual clients helped us meet our students’ needs by delivering greater availability, quieter working conditions, and reducing our environmental impact.  At the same time, virtual clients freed our IT staff to do more innovative work, and saved us money on PC hardware and maintenance."

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