Client Device Solutions

LEAs are struggling to reconcile the current end-user device environment where technical obsolescence is a significant challenge, especially with device options (refurbished devices, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), tablets versus laptops) and application requirements, most notably online assessments. Where learning management systems are in use or being considered, their effectiveness is often limited by student access to end-user devices.  Content creation versus content consumption is often identified as a concern when comparing tablets, laptops, and handheld devices (e.g. smartphones).

LEAs are replacing, or complementing their computing labs with mobile computing (laptops or tablets) carts or 1:1 initiatives. Apple iOS devices like the iPad are being deployed in greater numbers across the state. The majority of North Carolina’s LEAs have begun large-scale technology-enabled pilots or initiatives; however, there is significant concern regarding the ability to support and financially sustain these implementations. In addition to funding these initiatives through traditional means, LEAs are exploring alternative funding strategies, e.g. establishing a nonprofit trust or leveraging E-Rate for bundled services (device plus 3G/4G access), or technology strategies like BYOD and virtual desktop.


Graph representing the students to device ratio by number of schools.

We are developing implementation plans in the areas detailed below to aid districts with these challenges.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

LEAs are moving forward with supporting staff- and student-owned personal devices on their network as a way to address end-user device obsolescence challenges and sustain 1:1 computing initiatives, but have expressed concerns regarding their readiness to implement BYOD. Security and wireless connectivity are two significant technical challenges associated with BYOD. Sound security practices can reduce the risk of external and internal threats to end-systems by blocking unauthorized connections, detecting suspicious traffic patterns, and filtering malware. Wireless design is important to meet the security and capacity requirements of BYOD initiatives. BYOD policies and operational practices are also important considerations for a successful BYOD initiative. The use of SaaS and IaaS can simplify the security design and reduce the susceptibility to threats.

White Paper Now Available: Click Here

Service Objectives:
Engineering Support. Develop a white paper/recommended practices document for “Supporting Personal Devices on the School Network”. The white paper will focus on policies, technology solutions/recommendations, and operational models.

Project Management:
Frank Jou, Sr. Lead Solutions Architec, MCNC

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)

Given the tremendous success garnered by server virtualization, many IT organizations have been eager to explore the potential benefits of desktop virtualization.  LEAs are interested in implementing desktop virtualization technology due to its promises of improved security, manageability, and flexibility.  However, desktop virtualization comes in different flavors and its drivers may be quite different those of server virtualization.  The main purpose of this project is two-fold, which covers both technology investigation and financial analysis for sustainability.  On the technological front, this project will investigate various implementations and configurations of desktop virtualization offerings in order to enhance LEAs instructional delivery.  The emphasis of this investigation will be focused on the remote hosted virtual desktops and remote virtual applications with a view to provision these services as cloud-based offerings eventually.  On the financial front, desktop virtualization may take longer cycle to recoup the upfront investment as its major benefits mainly come from Opex saving rather than Capex reduction.  It is therefore necessary to understand the ROI financial model and the service’s sustainability.

Service Objectives:
Engineering Support.  Investigate and report on technological feasibility and financial sustainability of desktop virtualization services for LEAs instructional delivery.

Project Management:
Frank Jou, Sr. Lead Solutions Architect, MCNC
Don Smith, Consultant, MCNC

Mobile Device Management (MDM)

The majority of LEAs have invested in Microsoft, Novell, Apple, or third-party solutions like Dell KACE and LANDesk for desktop management. However, the increasing use of tablets and other mobile end-user devices has LEAs investigating mobile device management (MDM) solutions to compliment their existing desktop management capabilities. MDM is a developing market and vendor solutions are evolving to support a growing set of diverse mobile platforms.

Mobile device management functionality typically includes policy/configuration management, security management, application management, and asset management for mobile phones, smartphones, and tablet computers. MDM can be implemented directly Over the Air (OTA), targeting specific devices as necessary. Mobile device management functionality is important to supporting personal devices on the LEA-owned network. MDM vendors offer on-premises and cloud-hosted solutions.

MDM was identified by numerous LEAs as a possible NCEdCloud service.

Service Objectives:
Establish a convenience contract for Mobile Device Management SaaS or procure MDM software and offer a managed service in a shared third-party hosted environment.

Resource Plan:
Dave Furiness, Director of Client Network Engineering, MCNC
Don Smith, Consultant, MCNC

Endpoint Security

The need for a convenience contract for endpoint security software was identified by numerous LEAs during the site interview process.

State contract 208M is for Endpoint Security Software Products which includes Anti-Virus/Malware/Adware Components, Encryption Components, or a Full Endpoint Product Suite (both AV/Malware/Adware and Encryption) available from two manufacturers - McAfee and Symantec. This contract is available, but not mandatory for the use of LEAs.

Service Objectives: Establish a convenience contract for endpoint security software.

Resource Plan:
Dave Furiness, Director of Client Network Engineering, MCNC