Homer Central School District Eliminates Legacy Infrastructure and PC Labs While Providing Flexible Application Access to All Devices

Homer Central School District is a Pre-Kindergarten through 12th Grade public school district in upstate New York, responsible for the education of nearly 2,000 students. As part of their commitment to producing graduates prepared to succeed well beyond their walls, Homer adopted a one-to-one computer program six years ago. Today, all Pre-Kindergarten to First Graders have iPads, and all students from Second Grade on have Chromebooks.

Earlier this school year, Homer’s IT team set out to determine the utilization of its legacy infrastructure – especially its PC labs which were supporting legacy Windows apps. Their research revealed that only four legacy applications were still being utilized, and the utilization on those few apps was quite low. However, the faculty and students still utilizing those legacy apps were adamant that access to those applications needed to be maintained.

“We were supporting nearly 700 PCs, most of which were seven to eight years old. We had no idea that we were pouring time and money into supporting all this aging infrastructure, all for just a few legacy apps,” said Chris Slobodian, Network Administrator at Homer.

“This created a unique problem for us, because it made sense to eliminate the costly and aging infrastructure we were maintaining based on the low utilization – but not at the cost of losing functionality that was important to some of our students’ educations,” said Josh Finn, CTO at Homer Central School District.

When Your Organization’s Goals and Your Current Environment are Diametrically Opposed

The Homer IT team quickly realized that they needed a solution to bridge the gap between ensuring consistent access to legacy apps for students, faculty, and staff while also reducing time and money spent on infrastructure. They also needed a solution that would align with their overall goals.

“Our maintenance of our old infrastructure was in direct opposition to our IT organization’s goals. We had a goal to reduce infrastructure, yet we were maintaining a ton of it. We found our storage needs doubling, yet we had a goal to reduce storage costs. And we found ourselves becoming more reliant on Microsoft licenses, all at a time where one of our main goals was to reduce our dependency on licensing,” said Finn.

The Path to Application Modernization

Once the Homer IT team realized it needed to find a solution to provide remote access to legacy applications, it started out by looking internally at what existing licensing it could leverage. They began by testing VMware View, followed by Microsoft Remote Desktop.

“Both worked okay, but neither solved the entire the problem for us. And with the licensing, it became very apparent that both of those solutions would become very expensive, very quickly,” said Slobodian.

After doing some independent research for other options, Slobodian came across Cameyo for G Suite, and signed up for a demo.

Google Integration Delivers Functionality With Simplicity

All organizations like Homer who are migrating to Google’s G Suite face the same roadblock – how to migrate to a Google environment while continuing to support legacy Windows applications they’ve already invested in. Slobodian quickly realized that Cameyo solves this problem by delivering applications as a service to any device. And the fact that Cameyo integrates seamlessly with an organization’s G Suite settings, including Google Authentication, Google Chrome, and Google Cloud Print, was an added bonus.

“Once I saw what Cameyo could do, I was impressed. But once I realized the impact of the Google Integration, I knew this was the solution for us,” said Slobodian. “Being able to drive all apps directly from the cloud, and having this completely integrated with all of our G Suite settings, that’s just key.”

Cameyo’s integration with G Suite made the deployment simple for Slobodian, who had the whole system up and running in less than a day, all by himself.

“I had offers from my team members to help, but I didn’t need it. It was so simple,” said Slobodian.

This was in stark contrast to the setup times of competing solutions.

“When we spun up a proof of concept for using the VMWare Horizon solution, it took Chris three solid days to get started – and we are already a VMware house. That was three days of getting the VMware View infrastructure up, building the image, and getting the software installed – it was quite the ordeal. And that three days was just for the initial setup, whereas it took less than a day to get into full production with Cameyo,” said Finn. 

Eliminating Infrastructure, and So Much More

Since deploying Cameyo, the Homer team has seen impressive results. These include:

  • Elimination of Infrastructure – “This alone was worth it. The ability to get rid of our legacy systems has been a big cost savings,” said Slobodian.
  • Applications Anywhere, on Any Device – “The ability to deliver these legacy applications on any device, not only on these old machines, is huge. Now our students have access to these apps all the time, from anywhere. Now we can actually grow our legacy application support and offer new courses for those apps – like teaching kids basic Excel and PowerPoint skills – because we don’t have to maintain a PC lab in order to offer those courses,” said Finn.
  • Reduction in Support Time and Costs – “We’re a lot more nimble in our ability to deliver applications. This gives us massive flexibility and saves us a lot of time, since we don’t have to support all of these requests to get faculty and students access to particular apps. Even just taking the time to install an app on 15 machines – that’s a lot of time. For example, when trying to spin up VMware solutions, that took us a solid three days. That’s compared to the hours it took to get started with Cameyo,” said Slobodian.

Conclusion

Within two months of deploying Cameyo, the Homer IT team has already seen a complete return on investment. While the elimination of aging infrastructure alone reduced the Homer IT team’s costs significantly, the time savings had a similar impact on ROI. For example, the previous business applications course (teaching Excel and PowerPoint skills) was running on eight year old machines, and to get that lab up and running took 80 hours of labor.

“With Cameyo, it’s zero hours. Plus we don’t need a $35,000 lab to host it,” said Finn. “But there are also unquantifiable benefits that are just as important, like being able to tell a school principle that we can now set up new courses for them without having to set up costly new labs.”

And that really gets to the heart of the matter for Homer – the ability to deliver a greater education experience for their students without having to worry about which devices they are using, and the location of those devices.

“Basically, Cameyo took the requirement of the OS away from the app. Now we always have access to all of the apps we’ve invested in without the burden of any particular OS,” said Finn. “Students don’t have to go to a ‘PC Lab’ just so they can use Windows apps like Excel – now Excel is just an app, which our students can use from anywhere.”

“For this reason, Cameyo is the centrepiece of our transition to a cloud-based infrastructure.”