Every year, InfoWorld honors senior IT executives who have demonstrated leadership within their companies and in the IT community. GEO Foundation’s Brian Beck has been selected as one of the CTO 25 Award winners for 2010 for his work to virtualize desktops in an effort to give more of the students at GEO’s four schools computer access.
The GEO Foundation has helped foster support for Indiana’s current charter school law and now sponsors three charter schools in the state, as well in Colorado‚ totaling more than 1,300 students. As GEO grew larger, its computing infrastructure strained to keep up with demands. GEO was faced with supporting multiple schools and server farms, growing storage needs with expensive cooling requirements, and dealing with the issue of desktop backups becoming more difficult and expensive every year. In light of these costs and complexity, GEO decided to implement a new infrastructure and desktop replacement system.
Some of what Beck’s team did was commonplace: getting the required storage and networking equipment and integrating it with current infrastructure, and virtualizing its current servers. But Beck’s team also deployed desktop virtualization via Citrix’s XenServer and XenDesktop software. The technology and the money saved through the more efficient infrastructure combined to let GEO provide a 1:1 computer-to-student ratio. Previously, it could afford only one computer for every four students.