Technology – and all that is associated with it, including hardware, software, broadband charges and the like – can add up to a big number on a district’s annual budget. That’s why the New Jersey School Boards Association set up the TEC (technology for education and career) program. The initiative assists schools by providing cost-saving alternatives for creating, establishing and maintaining the most current digital learning opportunities available for students.

Recently, the Association issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) under the competitive contracting statutes allowing the membership to buy without going through the competitive bidding process, by purchasing through an entity that has already gone through the process. The contract was awarded to Carahsoft Technology Corp. to offer VMware cloud-based products and services to NJSBA members at discounts ranging from 2 to 22 percent off academic pricing. The cloud-based products and services provide districts an affordable, subscription-based means of managing technology initiatives and disaster recovery plans.

There are three newly available services that New Jersey districts should know about.

Disaster Recovery

A startling number of school districts do not have an effective disaster recovery plan in place. For example, they may back up information, but only to another local district school. The need for disaster recovery was best illustrated in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Even if some districts have not experienced a natural disaster, there is no guarantee these schools are safe from cybersecurity attacks, unplanned power outages, or data center equipment failures. Any of these could result in a loss of staff and instructional time, impacting students. VMware’s disaster recovery-as-a-service can provide schools with the ability to recover critical data and information without purchasing the infrastructure and software needed to build a dedicated recovery site.

Bring Your Own Device Solutions

Whether a school adopts a BYOD policy (bring your own device) or issues school devices, the process for protecting those devices is the same, and begins with enrolling the device into a mobile device management system. AirWatch lets schools activate devices in one simple step, without the need for any software, in their environment. An app is downloaded on devices and then all devices enrolled in the AirWatch system can be configured remotely. There are several powerful advantages to this type of system. Administrators can distribute documents between devices. IT administrators can track all mobile devices, configure policies and settings, distribute apps and secure access to school networks and resources all through the web-based console. AirWatch allows IT administrators to ensure devices are compliant with school policies and monitor violations in real time. This empowers a school to maximize its mobile investment by increasing IT efficiency and reducing costs associated with management mobility.

Desktop-as-a-Service

Many school districts are dealing with the reality of tighter IT budgets and the need to lower capital expenses. Removing or reducing a CapEx category from the school budget and replacing it with operation expenses like cloud-based subscription services is extremely attractive to many school districts. Desktop-as-a-service is a solution for schools to be able to deliver enhanced desktop functionality without making big investments in money, time, deployment and support. With more school districts moving toward BYOD, desktop-as-a-service ensures a consistent user experience, regardless of device format or brand, while standardizing deployment, security and support. Desktop-as-a-service provides schools the ability to make deployment and management of the desktop environment far less difficult for the district IT staff, while giving users maximum flexibility and a better, customizable user experience at a predictable cost.

NJSBA Webinar Series

NJSBA hosts webinars each month on topics of critical importance to school districts. Recently, NJSBA hosted a series of webinars including “Is your district prepared for a widespread IT outage,” “Improve Student Performance with School-Issued Device and BYOD,” and “Manage Student Devices while Delivering Content Collaboration.” View any of the recorded webinars.

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