by July 4, 2009 0 comments

The Government of Andhra Pradesh, around January this year embarked on an
ambitious mission to take IT education across 5000 rural government schools.
Since most of these schools are located in extremely remote areas, power and
infrastructure constraints were inevitable. The implementation finally involved
40,000 hardware devices that enable desktop virtualization, and allow a single
CPU to be used by multiple ‘seats’ and ‘stations’, for dissemination of IT
education and curriculum studies.

Each school has a one-room computer lab for students of Class 6 to 10 — armed
with 10 monitors and keyboards, and standalone home UPS systems for each of
them. Every computer lab has two PCs that act as host PCs — complete with a
monitor, CPU, keyboard and mouse, running on Windows XP SP 3. Every other
machine in the room has got a mouse sized slab device plugged in, which is
connected to one of the two host PCs. The device is the X 300 box by nComputing
which enables desktop virtualization, by utilizing the complete processing and
memory power of the host PC. In this instance, four computers, or ‘stations’
were connected to one host PC, and had access to all the applications hosted on
the central PC. Each of the 4 stations can operate independently like individual
PCs, and can be monitored by the administrator at all times. The nComputing
Management Console enables remote administration of each station, with
information on set of applications available, settings for individual stations,
including the ability to logoff, shut down applications, invoke applications,
and if need be, have the same application running on all four stations.
Broadband or wireless Internet is connected to the host PCs to enable access for
certain modules for each school.

The government’s goal is to accelerate computing access to the millions of
students in its system, but to do it in an economical, eco-friendly way. The
NComputing solution was chosen after multiple stages of deliberations. Many
factors like long term sustenance, power saving, infrastructure costs and
scale were considered and the government of Andhra Pradesh is pleased that
this first milestone has been met and that computing access has been created
for 1.8 million students around the state — most of whom have never had the

opportunity to even touch a computer
Suresh Chanda
IT Secretary of Andhra Pradesh

The implementation of the nComputing solution at a broad level saves
electricity costs for 4 CPUs and the corresponding heat generated. The X300 box
consumes 1 watt of power and for each school, this translates to 8 to 10 watts
of power, since the only CPUs being used are by the two host PCs. In certain
rural schools, where space is an equally compelling constraint, a notable
advantage is the fact that the X300 sits only on a 4’X4′ area on the tabletop
real estate. An obvious concern is the fact that the computing power of one CPU
is divided between 4 stations, and in most cases, all four operate
simultaneously with the same or different applications. While this may not seem
like a challenge since high school usage of the deployment is restricted to word
processing tools, spreadsheets, presentations and basic image application,
Internet does bear the brunt occasionally if users of all the four stations
decide to be flamboyant with their surfing desires. The Zilla school at Medak
District also has a Honda generator sitting at the corner of the room, which has
the ability to power up the entire infrastructure. In areas where basic public
power is a limited commodity, generators are used to power up entire labs for a
number of hours. Implementers make an interesting observation here that it is
greener than using 8 CPUs — all with their fans running.

Company Scenario
Before Deployment
  • IT could not be reached to rural areas due to infrastructure and power
After Deployment
  • 5000 schools in rural Andhra Pradesh now have low cost shared
    computing resources
Implementation Partner
Educomp, Everon, NIIT, IEC and OEM Partners: HP, ACER and HCL

PCQuest spoke to E Srinivas Rao from NIIT at the Zilla Parishad High School.
“We have NIIT trained staff to man the computer lab in this school. Daily,
students from Class 6 to 10 attend the lab classes either as part of their
computer familiarity courses, or to attend certain modules as part of their
regular curriculum. The staff ensures that they keep a track of each user and
what he/she is viewing or what applications are being used.” NIIT is one of many
partners of Government of Andhra for the rural computing initiative. 5000
schools have one partner each that sets up and runs the computer labs for 5
years (the initiative kicked off in January this year). The Government of Andhra
Pradesh claims that the use of the desktop virtualization tool has resulted in a
50% cost saving in hardware acquisition in comparison to deployment of full
CPU+Monitor+Keyboard+Mouse set ups. In addition, around 70% saving happens in
maintenance costs. The implementation involves 5000 schools, with 10 seats each,
complete with 10,000 host PC systems and 40,000 nComputing X 300 boxes.

12 years of research has gone into the conceptualization of nComputing
devices that are primarily aimed at leveraging the most out of existing
computing power in a network. nComputing devices sync up and dynamically
allocate computing power to various stations. nComputing has the X series of
devices, like the X 300, X350 and X 550, in increasing order of
compatibility with number of stations. The L series of offerings is
exclusively for LAN infrastructures of various sizes. The next graduation
for nComputing is to incorporate wireless technologies. We are also looking
to consolidate our corporate and SMB portfolio — especially in the areas of
heathcare and BPOs

Monali Handa,
Marketing Manager, nComputing

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