Cameyo Blog

  

Improving the Education Experience While Optimizing Infrastructure and Reducing Cost

February 11, 2020
By Robb Henshaw

The following is a transcript of our recent webinar on how to improve the education experience while optimizing infrastructure and reducing cost, featuring a great panel including Google for Education, Homer Central School District, and Cameyo. GFE Webinar_Blog

- Chris Slobodian - Homer Central School District

So to give you a brief little overview of our environment, we have roughly two thousand students, probably five hundred instructional and non-instructional staff, and we really had just transitioned to a one-to-one Chromebook environment. So we started to notice that we still had all these these PC labs that were out out in the district, but we still we had every child on a device. So every kid has a device, but we still have all these computer labs. And we really wanted to try and figure out, what was the purpose of these labs? Were they still serving a real need? So after doing a little investigation, we really noticed that most  of those labs were being used by kids who already had a Chromebook. But, you know, there were still some Windows apps that were really hard for folks to get away from. A lot of the office applications, and some teaching applications, that just don't work on Chromebooks. So we really tried to figure out what was going to be the best path forward so that we could give people access to those Windows apps on any device, without having to support the PC labs. We looked at a couple other different ways of doing it. But,  Cameyo really fit the bill for what we were looking to do and the ability to customize it to the district.

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

That's great. Now, in terms of the experience you were looking to drive, obviously you had the one-to-one program. So every student had a device. But in terms of being able to make it really dead simple to get people to be able to use their applications from any device - tell us about that experience.

- Chris Slobodian - Homer Central School District

We didn't want this to be the way things used to be. For example, say I'm a teacher who needs to teach kids using a Windows application. I have to schedule a lab and hope that I can get that time frame and then get the kids in there. And we didn't want it to be a complicated thing or a kludgy thing or require special training or anything like that. We really wanted a solution that was a very simple browser-based program. And not only that, but we needed it to have a lot of integrations and hooks, hooks into Google. So, you know, that was really the driving force was something that was integrated into what we were already using and something that would that would be very simple. Not much training. It would be literally as simple as opening a web application.

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

That's great. Let's go one by one through the  core challenges that you were facing and dig in a little bit deeper. Into how you address those challenges. So when when it comes to optimizing infrastructure, tell us a little bit more about the challenge you are facing, how Cameyo and Google were able to help, and what results you've been able to see thus far.

- Chris Slobodian - Homer Central School District

So, you know, it's my assignment from an infrastructure standpoint to maintain all the pieces we already have. We have to maintain all of the infrastructure that supports all of those pieces. So whether it be active directory, whether it be the servers that provide other functions on your network, the storage  of those servers, all sorts of licensing and all the other stuff on top of the fact that those pieces were we're now starting to, you know, fall out of favor in terms of their lifecycle and needing to be replaced. And then we're also trying to balance a virtual desktop environment that we we had in-house, that, again, was starting to age. We had to look at upgrading and maintaining. So there was a lot of different things that we were we're looking to to try to optimize. And the aging PCs were now only 20 percent of our entire fleet. So 80 percent of our fleet now is a Chromebook and only 20 percent is PC.  So it really made sense to optimize things toward the Chromebook.

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

Let me go ahead and pass the screen to you, Chris, so that you can show us what your environment looks like now.

- Chris Slobodian - Homer Central School District

So it was really just as simple as asking, hey, how can I give my students and staff the ability to launch an application in the browser on any device - mainly Chromebooks. So from our our customizable application portal that we have through Cameyo, it's literally as simple as running an application in the browser. And immediately I get access to that application. So it is that simple. It is that easy. And it literally took me one day to fully just get it up and testing within my own environment.

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

Wow, that's incredible. So you did this all yourself, in one day?

- Chris Slobodian - Homer Central School District

I did it all myself in one day. You know, there were some things that I needed to tweak. And the guys who work with me were more than happy to lend a hand and spend some time. But honestly, I want to get my hands dirty and do it myself. And I got to say, it was probably one of the easier projects I've done when it came to implementing some sort of virtual application.

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

That's phenomenal.  So, Ruby, you work with school districts all the time. What are your thoughts on the challenges that Chris is dealing with? Tell us a little more about what you guys are seeing in Google for Education. And are these typical challenges?

- Ruby Chang - Google for Education

Thanks for the invitation to join everyone here today. It's incredible because when we think about the work that our team has done, Google for Education has brought 90 million students and educators online on GCP. Last week, we announced that there are 40 million students and educators on Chromebooks. And what really blew me away about Chris's example here is that it takes such little time to get a project like this started that fits and integrates so well within the infrastructure that you have. And it's all built on Cameyo's platform, which is on Google's infrastructure, and that powers all of that. So all of the things that really bring this to life, like the underlying servers, networking, infrastructure, all that is taken care of. And the big takeaway for me is that it made it so simple for schools to just get started like this instead of having to think about a traditional VDI architecture where you'd have to purchase a server and setting it up. This really does help streamline a lot of that process and keep infrastructure super simple for schools and to be able to  connect it to everything. You know, I love Chris. I'm excited to hear a little bit more during our hour together here about how saving and printing and all of that kind of just integrates and keeps things simple in a way that's easy for them to use. But also, there's a lot going on the back end that you're not seeing, like full effect security that the lightning fast networking. And this is a huge time difference. They are saving by being able to manage this and operating with limited resources. So we are really excited on the Google for Education side to partner with folks like Cameyo to help deliver full click-to-deploy solutions like this in a matter of minutes instead of days and weeks.

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

Thanks Ruby. And Jordan, I know that you talk to all of our education customers on a daily basis. What do you see? Is this a common theme you're seeing? Is this something that we're dealing with everywhere?

- Jordan Pusey - Cameyo

Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that as I work with more and more education customers, we start to see some big trends. The first trend is that they tend to do a cloud first approach to the way that they solve problems, which is fantastic. And quite honestly, it beats a lot of businesses. When we talk about things like digital transformation and so forth, and they've done a great job of adopting some of these technologies like Google G Suite and GCP and so forth. But inevitably they run into maybe a problem or two where they need to still support some of those Windows applications that are on site for the educational purposes of the students. Maybe a vocational class or a STEM class or something like that. And and so we see a lot of people that are you know, they love to adopt the Web first technologies, but they don't know how. And so they tend to go back to what they know. Which is OK, we can set up a PC lab. And so Camejo has done a really good job of saying, OK, what we can do with this is we can still support those Windows applications, but we're doing it from a web browser. So now you can deliver it to the device that the student has in hand, which is really critical and making it making its easier to support infrastructure and optimize your infrastructure because you're able to offload all all of that to the cloud all the sudden. The other thing is, is that you don't have additional hardware and software. You know, you you've got just the infrastructure that you have that's in the cloud already. And so one of the things, Chris, and maybe you can talk a little bit about this as well is one of the things when I first met you. You said, hey, we're looking at a couple of different solutions. And one of them was a VDI solution. And you went through and you started building out this VDI solution on site. And you said that this this took you an afternoon, which I think is fantastic. But the VDI solution, if I remember right, you had like three months slated to be able to build that out. And as you were building it out, it seemed like the cost was skyrocketing, that you were actually at 3X the cost of a PC lab and so forth. And so, you know, good for you for getting on with with Cameyo and understanding how much easier that is to be able to implement those last mile applications.

- Chris Slobodian - Homer Central School District

Yeah, absolutely. That VDI project wound up being expensive and time consuming and it just it just wasn't fitting.  You know, I certainly don't mind something being complicated for me in the I.T. standpoint, but I definitely don't want it to be complicated whatsoever for our end users. I want it to be simple and I want it to work. So, yeah, that's why Cameyo really became the perfect fit for that.

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

Moving on to the next core challenge that everyone's facing these days is how do you do all of this while also reducing costs? So now let's let's switch up the order a little bit here. Kyle, can you talk a little bit more about how Google for education partners with schools and school districts to help them tackle these challenges while reducing costs?

- Kyle Azua - Google for Education

Yeah, definitely. So with Google for Education, we have a lot of ways of helping schools to reduce overall costs. I think most notably GCP and Chrome have really enabled schools to kind of stretch their budget as much as possible while still being able to meet the individual needs of students. Most importantly, we also love working with partners like Cameyo, who are also able to help us with K-12 institutions and stretching their dollars as much as possible with the biggest impact they can have with their students. Especially for some schools that, you know, can't necessarily afford to buy an entire computer lab for some other piece of software like Photoshop or Excel. If there was a budget to replace our entire computer lab and set it up, I think you really need to look at the impact on the students. And this solution will help those students to learn whether they're at the library, in the classroom, at home, on the bus. That's what was most exciting about this for me. It's really great that Cameyo really helps to create this flexibility. We're really excited to partner with Cameyo in this area and see the impact it can really have on the students. And Chris, I know that you were kind of in charge of setting this up. How many people did you have to wrangle together to help you kick this project off?

- Chris Slobodian - Homer Central School District

It was really just myself and one other person. And then I think we had our first pilot classroom launched within one week.

- Kyle Azua - Google for Education

Yeah, that's so common. I feel like the number one thing I get a lot of head shakes in the rooms when I'm presenting is as soon as you start talking about how tight staff is and how to kind of take a new technology or learn it, everybody can feel that pain. So that's that's another reason why this is so impressive that Chris, just you by yourself be able to set the whole thing up without issue. 

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

Jordan, any other color you can add here in terms of our partnership with Google and how we've been able to work together and help make sure we we're we're not only giving students that the experience that they need, but doing this in a way that is cost effective for schools.

- Jordan Pusey - Cameyo

Yeah. I like the fact that, you know, we talked about the device in hand. A lot of times schools, they want to go after this problem with additional hardware. So, you know, how do we support those last mile Windows applications? Well, let's go get a lab notebook, put that together. Well, it really becomes problematic in the fact that now you're taking up not only hardware, but there's software involved in all the antivirus and support software. I think Chris mentioned the back end as well. So, you know, now you have to set up an active directory server. You've got to set up storage. You know,  those appliances and so forth for storage become very expensive very quickly. And then there's just the cost of maintaining and managing those pieces along with the facility costs. You know, how much does it cost for you to host a lab and have a classroom? Wouldn't it begreat f you could just simply host those applications that are needed for the courseware in the classroom that the students are are in with the device that they have in hand? And so, working with Homer, they knew it didn't make sense to have a one-to-one initiative when they've already got a device in their hand to have to double or triple the cost to support these PC labs. And so that's one advantage that you have with Cameyo on the Google Cloud Platform is to be able to host those applications in the cloud in a very cost effective manner. And then being able to eliminate some of those double costs around PC labs and the support.

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

That's an excellent. And Chris, is there anything you can share with us in terms of your actual results, what you've seen thus far in how you've been able to reduce costs?

- Chris Slobodian - Homer Central School District

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we were at a junction, I think we could easily say we were kind of figuring out what would be the most sense. Would it be to buy a whole other set of labs or to look at an alternative? And when a decent computer costs, let's say eight hundred dollars, you need 30 of them per lab. We're talking $24K per lab very quickly. And then we're talking, you know, $24K times how many labs in the district. That's a huge savings on our end when we can eliminate those costs. So that that right there, the actual buying the hardware is probably the most important piece of savings for us. Some of the ancillary parts were also licensing. So  you have to worry about my Windows licensing,  all the other stuff again that goes into supporting those labs and worrying about having to have that all lined up. And then I think the thing that's really not quantifiable in terms of dollars and cents is time, right? I mean, how much does it cost us to pay someone to set those machines up and unbox them and get them going and then to maintain them when there's an issue? So, again, that may not be a dollar and cents per say, but it's definitely an important factor, especially when you're a small shop and you only have a few folks to run it.

- Jordan Pusey - Cameyo

Chris, I want to throw out there, too, just the type of expertise that you might have to bring in for other solutions, too.

- Chris Slobodian - Homer Central School District

So if you're setting up, you know, like a VDI solution and so forth, you might actually have to find somebody that has that expertise to be able to set those things up. And so, you know, that was one advantage of having Cameyo was not having to bring in outside expertise. It was really easy to set up and share those applications with our end users. That just saved us tons and tons of time. VDI is a very complicated beast. Even if you're very well versed in it, it's still hard to do it right. There's a lot of time investment. So, yeah - again, to work with Cameyo all you need to know how to do is install an application. Chances are you can set Cameyo up without a problem.

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

So, we talked a little bit about optimizing the existing infrastructure while reducing costs at the same time. But it's hard to do both of fthose things while making sure that all of this is in service of improving the actual education experience. So, you know, Chris, tell us a little bit about how you prioritize that and how you were able to to deliver on that while also reducing cost and optimizing.

- Chris Slobodian - Homer Central School District

You know, obviously, dollars and cents are certainly important to a district, but quality of education, that's our driving force. Right. We we want to make sure that the the technology, the tools that those students have is not only effective, but it's relevant. Some of the big things, at least from our standpoint, was we didn't have a lab anymore, which meant all of those scheduling conflicts where, you know, you have people fighting over periods of time that they wanted to use in order to do a project - that all goes away. And probably the other the other big thing, especially for some of the secondary folks who maybe only have a 40  minute block a day to work on a project - that goes away. They're not limited to when they have that class that they were working on a project to do it. They can do it whenever they want, if they have a study hall or if they want to work on it at home. They have that option. So really giving them the tools and giving them the tools to use them whenever they want, as long as they have some way to get online at home or wherever they may be. You know, that is huge. And sometimes, too, with the labs, we'd run into a situation where maybe you wouldn't have enough in one space for all of the students as well. So maybe you have to have kids buddy up or or work together. But again, we already had that one-to-one program in place. So every student had a device. So that wasn't an issue. So, again, kind of what Jordan was saying was, hey, we already have these devices in hand. Let's let's make use of them. Everyone has one. And now, you know, again, students and teachers can can work on those projects whenever they want to. For as long as they want to.

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

That's great. And Chris, there's a few attendees who had to join a little bit late - would be possible if you still have it up to  show your Cameyo portal again real quick in terms of the actual experience and how easy it is for for students to access these apps.

- Chris Slobodian - Homer Central School District

Sure thing. So, again, this is our portal that we had set up customized to what we wanted. And again, it's just literally as simple as clicking on an app that you want. And then it goes ahead and launches that program, just as you would have had expected it to. And really, it functions exactly as as we would want. We'll talk about some some of the other neat things that we can do with this.

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

So, Kyle, tell us a little bit more. I mean, obviously, for Google for Education, you guys are so focused on on partnering with schools and making sure that they're delivering the best possible experience. Tell us how the pieces come together and  how you enable that great user experience for students.

- Kyle Azua - Google for Education

I  just think back to what are our overall goals in education. So one goal for education is to help expand learning for everyone. And we think that really should be possible on any device, any budget and any time. If I'm a student and I'm told I have this one hour a day to do this project, that just doesn't work. I mean, what if that's not when I'm the most productive or what if I want to spend some extra time working on it. I feel like that changes the learning experience. So when you really unlock that, they can learn and work, you know, in the classroom, on the go, wherever. And I feel like we should be thinking more and more about how we can enable students to work on what they want to work on when they want to work on it. I did also want to lob a question back over to Chris. How was the purchasing decision within Homer - what was that process like for you?

- Chris Slobodian - Homer Central School District

I was tasked  with trying to find a solution by our CTO. So, you know, he was like, hey, let's try and find something that works well and fits into what we've outlined and discussed and kind of once I had  realized the potential and and things that I was able to do with Cameyo and show him what what it was capable of, he kind of took the ball and ran with it from there. It doesn't take much to show what Cameyo can do and how simple it is and really what the impact will be. So once once you have that that buy in, it's really not not a difficult sell by any stretch.

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

That's great. And Jordan,  in all your work with other districts, you've said this holds true, being able to strike a balance between reduction in cost and optimizing infrastructure and still delivering a great experience. Does  that help people sell this vision internally?

- Jordan Pusey - Cameyo

Yeah, absolutely, a lot of times a lot of the districts that we run into are trying to make that switch to both the cloud and to Chromebook. And what they're seeing is that there's there's really some resistance with some of the teachers and so forth. And so, you know, the nice thing about what you can do with Cameyo is that you can still give them the Chromebook, but still give them that experience from the applications that they're familiar with. The other thing, too, is that we've integrated with  Google G suite so they can easily authenticate and use the Google G Drive through Google Drive to be able to upload all of their documents to  the application. So it just makes it a really easy experience for end users. It makes it really easy for the I.T. as well, but it makes it really easy for end users to be able to access those applications. They need nothing but a web browser to be able to do that and and get that that common experience to be able to help them make that digital transformation.

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

Excellent. So Chris, final  notes on that. Any anything else you want to share in terms of the the experience and how this has been received by the students?

- Chris Slobodian - Homer Central School District

No, I mean, it's really been been great. I mean, we've done a couple of things with Cameyo of real, real note for us. The first was we had a college level business course that was originally taught in a lab with Microsoft Office and shifted itself over to Chromebooks and Cameyo. And they couldn't have been happier with not only the experience, but, you know, again, the ability to work on on that material outside of the classrooms. So that was definitely huge. And we also had science folks who, you know, were dead set on using a particular Office product because of the fact that they just knew it very well. And it was easy for what they wanted to do. And they would continually, you know, go to any place there was an available PC to do it. And again, once we implemented this, they were able to do it right in the classroom. They didn't have to leave the classroom, leave the experiment. They didn't have to go anywhere. They could just pull the Chromebook and go to work. So, yeah, for us, I mean, those were some really big wins early on when we first started out our Cameyo journey. It's been very well received.

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

That's excellent. Well, I know we have just about 10 minutes left to wrap this, so we wanted to get to a couple of the questions that had been submitted. So moving into Q&A, the first question we got was: "Does the value of this this joint Cameyo and Google solution apply only to large school districts with thousands of users? Or would I be able to see similar benefits at a smaller individual school level?" Chris, how would you tackle that?

- Chris Slobodian - Homer Central School District

You know, we're certainly not a large school district. We're not small either. I feel like we're kind of in the in the sweet spot as far as size. And, you know, it definitely paid off for us. If you're in a position to have a one to one program or close to launching one, and you're also looking at potentially replacing a large set of aging machines, it really does make sense.

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

And Ruby, what are your thoughts on this in terms of what you've seen and deal with with both schools and larger districts?

- Ruby Chang - Google for Education

So, you know, Google for Education works with all schools and, you know, not just public schools, but independent schools as well. We work with school districts of all sizes. And we find that the idea of modernizing infrastructure is something that is common amongst all of us. Right. So in our work, we've seen projects of this scope all across different sizes of school districts. I think what's really nice is you're able to have a lot of freedom and flexibility. That's something thats really afforded to you by working with platforms like Cameyo that are based in the cloud. And that allows you to use as many applications as possible or maybe even just one. I know that we've had cases where school districts are interested in having these applications serving students during the school year. And then in the summertime, that district in particular doesn't use that application for summer courses. So they actually spin that down and that allows them to save on costs. And, you know, I think there is a lot of flexibility to also think about, you know, if there's a case where if you have another classroom that's coming into place and you have a new instructor, you can easily scale up. So I think that skill, ability and the flexibility and also maintaining all of that from one simple pane of glass, so to speak. That's an really attractive regardless of where you're coming from.

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

That's excellent. Jordan, any additional thoughts?

- Jordan Pusey - Cameyo

Yeah, we can support both large and small schools and districts. And I think that ease of use really fits in with with both of those. A large organization, obviously, they don't want to hire additional expertise. They don't want to get additional consulting when they can do it themselves. And for a smaller organization, when you're wearing multiple hats, it just makes it really easy for you to create those applications for the teachers that are are wanting to be able to share those applications with their students and help them in their learning process.

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

So this next question is kind of a follow up. So, Chris, I know you mentioned that you were able to personally get this moving in one day by yourself. But this question is: "How long did it take Homer to deploy this, all in - from first evaluation to actually it being in use by the students?"

- Chris Slobodian - Homer Central School District

I think most of our process was driven by the school year. You know, obviously, that that is very, very predictable. I think it was late spring two years back. And Jordan might be able to help keep me honest on that. But so we started working on the process and chatting with Cameyo. I think I got the link to our server and I, as I said, went to town and installed everything and that day had it up and working for myself to make sure it would would work. And I think the next day I passed it over to our CTO and said, hey, take a look at this. This is pretty cool. I think we played around with it for a week or so. We then set up a proof of concepts with Gmail. And I think that was maybe eight or nine weeks. And I think that brought us close to the end of the school year. I think we did use a little bit of it during our summer school. But, you know, we were ready to go September to deploy at full scale. And we did. We did have lots of time in between to show people how to use Cameyo.  So it really it could be done in a shorter period of time, depending again on what point during your school year you roll this out. And again, with regards to how much buy in you get - I would say within a few months you could go from nothing to a full blown solution.

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

That's excellent. So the next question actually kind of dovetails nicely with what you just mentioned at the end, which is how long it takes to get buy in. The next question is: "What are your recommendations for building the ROI case that I can present to my manager?" So again, let let's let's start with hearing from you, Chris.

- Chris Slobodian - Homer Central School District

I mean, I definitely had a hand in figuring this out myself. And, you know, the first thing is you have to know your environment and you really have to know what you have out there. And I think the next thing is knowing what what's out there and what is being used on that. So we we did have the ability to go back and kind of audit and say, hey, we have these labs and these labs are only being used for this purpose. Does it make sense for these labs to only exist to support two applications? Does that make sense? So you start to get into the time evaluation, you start to get into money, especially as we're talking in replacing machines. So we have to replace all these labs. We knew that we wanted to be in a situation where we didn't have labs and we didn't have to worry about licensing and infrastructure and all of that. So you kind of already have to have that in the back of your mind already as far as where you are, and where you want to go. And once you get to the point of what I've got, you know, all these labs and spending $24K per year per lab, you start to build that case. And once you build that case, I think it's a pretty solid foundation to pitch up the chain.

- Robb Henshaw - Cameyo

Excellent. Well, everybody, we're at time. We're going to go ahead and let everybody go. Thank you, Kyle. Thank you, Ruby. Thank you, Jordan. Thank you, Chris, for sharing your your insight with your peers and helping us dive into these issues today. We really appreciate your time.  We do encourage you to go ahead and go ahead and sign up for the free trial today and get started. It's very simple to get started, as Chris mentioned, or we could be happy to give you a demo and walk you through it and help you get started.

Filed Under: Legacy Applications, legacy application, Education, Chromebooks, Google Cloud Platform, Digital Transformation, VDI, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, Webinar, GCP, Virtual Application Delivery