In a lot of ways, I am a cheap SOB. I hate spending money stupidly. I think it's my taxpayer side that loves GoogleApps for Education as much as my teacher side.
Savings by using Google Apps, really generally moving to a more cloud-based model of providing computer services ? Let me count the ways for our district (7200 students, 800 professional staff, 3000 supported computers in use (1000 staff, 2000 student).
- No internal mailserver and mail back-up costs (hardware, software, maintenance).$12,000 (We were due for a replacement and running out of storage capacity)
- No student/staff document file server costs (hardware, software, maintenance). $84,000 (28 servers and server OS at $3000 each on a 5 year replacement.)
- Less need to upgrade computer OS's since apps are browser-based. $150,000 ($50 upgrade x 3000 computers)
- Less printing -paper, copiers, toner, printer salaries, etc. $400,000 (Reduction of 20% in photocopying each year.)
- Less need for commercial productivity tools like Office or iWork (do elementary kids really need these?) and the cost of upgrading to new versions. $100,000 ($50 x 2000 computers)
- Ability to use lower powered computers (thin clients, netbooks) in more situations and a reduction in number of separate configurations needed for machines. $1,000,000 ($500 lower price of 2000 computers) Eventually resulting in...
- Reduction in tech support costs. Or more properly stated, slower increase in the need for more tech support. $250,000 ($50,000 position eliminated)
- Less tangible savings in time, portable storage/transport devices, mailing hard copy documents. Indirect savings to users.
- More work out of staff members when they are able to conveniently work from home. (I am SUCH an administrator!) Priceless!
These are rough and admittedly optimistic estimates, but I think you can see the general trend. Even if only 50% of my estimated nearly $2M in savings is realized, that averages out to close to $200,000 per year. (Out of a $1.2M budget.) I am not suggesting reducing tech budgets by this amount, but I can sure think of a lot more interesting things (like kids' computers, a more robust wireless network, and more bandwidth) to spend tech dollars on.
Yes, I need to pay $7 a year per administrative, possibily teacher, e-mail account for archiving and retrieval. Not bad, though, considering.
I was intrigued by Miguel Guhlin's suggestion that since GoogleApps has posted that it will require a recent webbrowser (Internet Explorer 7.0 and above, Firefox 3.0 and above, Google Chrome 4.0 and above, and Safari 3.0 and above) that it is making some computers obsolete.
Hmmmmm, what sort of computer is needed to run Firefox 3.x? (Forget Explorer, boys and girls - the apps, tools and stuff are so much better for Firefox there is no comparison.) From the Mozilla site:
Windows Operating Systems
- Windows 2000
- Windows XP
- Windows Server 2003
- Windows Vista
- Pentium 233 MHz (Recommended: Pentium 500MHz or greater)
- 64 MB RAM (Recommended: 128 MB RAM or greater)
- 52 MB hard drive space
Mac Operating Systems
- Mac OS X 10.4 and later
- Macintosh computer with an Intel x86 or PowerPC G3, G4, or G5 processo
- 128 MB RAM (Recommended: 256 MB RAM or greater)
- 200 MB hard drive space
Might I humbly suggest that schools that have mission-critical computers that don't meet these minimum requirements are not practicing "sustainable" technology practices. (Dang, it's that management stuff instead of leadership stuff again.)
Maybe we need to take a lesson from farming. There is an economic and ecological philosophy called “sustainable agriculture.” The folks who practice this method of farming believe that more should not be taken from the land than can be naturally replaced by it each year. By rotating crops, returning the used harvest to the fields (in usually a rather aromatic form), and having reasonable yield expectations, a farmer can leave the next generation a field in as fertile a condition as he found it.
Schools can and should practice “sustainable technology.” This practice involves:
- Not purchasing more technology than can be regularly maintained, upgraded and replaced.
- Rotating the technology.
- Having reasonable expectations.
If I am missing something - big or little - let me know. Thanks!