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DaaS vs. VDI: College group opts for cloud simplicity

One college group in need of a desktop infrastructure refresh found sending workspaces to the cloud instead of implementing VDI was its best bet.

One college consortium in need of a desktop infrastructure refresh weighed DaaS versus VDI, and found the benefits of cloud desktops far outweighed those of virtual desktops.

Recently, EduK Group, Inc. (EduK) moved its data centers to a private cloud hosted by Corporate IT Solutions Inc. of Norwood, Mass. EduK Group, based in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, found its infrastructure of servers, switches and networking was experiencing downtime due in part to increased workloads.

Corporate IT Solutions recently approached EduK about testing its new desktop as a service (DaaS) offering, pCloud Workspace. The timing worked well for EduK, which runs a network of colleges in Florida and Puerto Rico, including Florida Technical College and Puerto Rico's National University College. It has a student base of 25,000 and around 3,000 employees spread across 37 different sites.

"We were seeking ways to rectify an aging infrastructure of PCs, and looking to alternatives to reinvesting in new PCs and having to manage them ourselves," said Derek Ottaviano, an independent IT consultant who acts as EduK Group's executive director of IT.

EduK considered several other DaaS providers for its desktop environment, which Ottaviano declined to name. But there are several options today from big-name vendors including VMware, Microsoft and Amazon, and from a number of smaller providers.

'[With VDI] we would be in a similar environment but even more costly than today.'
Derek OttavianoEduK Group

DaaS made more sense than attempting a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) implementation because EduK already had the private cloud relationship with Corporate IT Solutions. Also, the company was worried about adding to its hardware base.

"Being such a wide organization, it makes a lot of sense to centralize all that infrastructure into a cloud rather than having to manage it across 37 sites," Ottaviano said. "We would be in a similar environment but even more costly than today."

Putting in capable infrastructure at campus sites that would act as VDI servers would also be inefficient for the number of people being served at each site, Ottaviano said.

"The [DaaS] model allows us to have all our apps and desktops sitting right next to each other in our own private cloud, so if we need to test, deploy or software update, we do it in one central location as opposed to multiple locations," he said.

However, EduK faces several challenges in making its DaaS deployment work. It's still figuring out what parts of the campuses would most benefit from DaaS, plus it's working to ensure networking capabilities can handle what's needed to run the desktops.

"We know the technology is good and it fits in our infrastructure, but we are actually taking some strides to beef up our telecom so we make sure when we deploy this at some of our sites that it can be successful," he said.

The plan is to strategically roll out pCloud Workspace to selected areas among the employee users with the possibility of expanding to students in the future, Ottaviano said.

EduK is still working with Corporate IT Solutions to ensure its legacy applications specific to some colleges will work within the pCloud Workspace environment. For example, it still needs to see if a specific medical school application will be validated to work within the environment.

Pricing for pCloud Workspace ranges from $125 to $175 per user per month.

Jake O'Donnell is the news writer for and Search He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @JakeODonnell_TT.

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