Presidio helps Atlanta Public Schools ace online testing with Citrix desktop virtualization

When Atlanta Public Schools (APS) put out a request for proposals (RFP) to update its IT infrastructure, the organization had several key goals. APS, which enrolls 50,000 students at 100 schools, was struggling with a patchwork of endpoint devices, various Microsoft Office versions and bandwidth constraints that were impacting performance of video and graphics apps. The organization recognized that implementing a solution featuring server-based virtual desktops could address the following challenges:

  • Improve the integrity of standardized testing by delivering test apps online vs. using traditional pencils and paper
  • Replace 24,000 underperforming endpoint devices with a common zero client
  • Improve application performance by avoiding the need to send data over the LAN
  • Simplify the planned upgrade to Microsoft Office 365 and make the software securely accessible to faculty and students outside the classroom

Winning a $15 million project

Presidio, a Citrix Platinum Solution Advisor headquartered in New York City, was in a great position to win the RFP. The organization has years of expertise in the state and local government and education (SLED) market. Further, Presidio combined  a strong local presence in Atlanta with extensive enterprise resources to handle this large and complex project. Partnerships with Microsoft and Cisco strengthened its competitive position as a full-service provider of virtualized apps and desktops, networking and unified communications solutions.

To fulfill APS’s wish to take advantage of pricing advantages offered by Microsoft, Presidio’s solution brought together the following components: XenDesktop 7 running on Microsoft Hyper-V 2012, Cisco UCS and Cisco Invicta storage technologies, NetScaler Access Gateway for secure remote access and Wyse T10 zero clients.  Although APS had been using VMware View, Presidio demonstrated that XenDesktop 7 offered better video performance on the Wyse zero clients. The manageability and scalability of the XenDesktop solution, combined with the ability to use Hyper-V, also contributed to APS’ selection of Presidio’s proposal.

“Citrix was instrumental in this $15 million win, which is our largest K-12 virtualization project to date,” said Tom Gamull, practice manager for Workforce Mobility at Presidio. “First, the maturity of Citrix technologies in very large deployments provided a high level of confidence.  We were leading with some very recent products (Hyper-V 2012, Office 365, etc.) and wanted a stable base that had a proven track record.  Second, Citrix Consulting assisted us in meeting the customer’s requirement for a Citrix validated solution. Because XenDesktop 7 was so new, Consulting presented the design, which was based on their proven methodology, and validated it prior to the pilot.”

Although the rollout is continuing over the summer, several schools successfully administered PearsonVUE’s web-based TestNav app using XenDesktop at the end of the 2014 school year.. Another benefit is secure access to Office 365 tools, files and documents (stored on OneDrive) on mobile devices, including APS-issued iPad tablets and personal (BYO) devices.  With XenDesktop, faculty and students can expand learning beyond the classroom. Delivery of virtual apps will also avoid the risk of storing data on unsecure thumb drives.

“APS is very happy with the infrastructure,” said Gamull. “Citrix helped us demonstrate our leadership in application-focused solutions in addition to our well-known abilities in networking, unified communications, security, managed services and other areas. We intend to continue providing solutions to large SLED, enterprise and commercial customers and plan to strengthen our Citrix focus.”

Want to learn more? Check out “I Read From a Laptop”, written by Tom Gamull, Practice Manager, Workforce Mobility at Presidio, visit http://www.presidio.com/content/i-read-laptop.

Visit www.presidio.com for more information about Presidio.