The world of operating systems is changing. 

Microsoft’s Windows has practically dominated the space since 1990, when Windows 3.0 came out. But now Google’s Chrome OS is upending the OS status quo. In just a few years, Chrome OS has gone from nonexistent to totally dominant in U.S. K-12 school districts, making up 70% of new computer shipments in 2018. Now, it is quickly making inroads with large enterprises, government agencies, and other organizations trying to attract and adapt to the next generation of graduates, save money, enhance security, simplify management, and increase reliability, without all of the traditional headaches. Chrome OS has already won early enterprise adopters shifting to the cloud (est. 5% U.S. market share in 2019), and now the early majority are beginning to pile in as the paradigm shifts from Windows and the OS status quo to Chrome OS and doing everything in the browser.

At Neverware, CIOs of school districts ranging from 100 to over 1,000,000 students come to us asking for help transitioning to the cloud - specifically OS help - and they usually have a specific problem they’re trying to solve. But what they come to realize is the paradigm shift with Chrome OS can address a LOT of other issues with their Windows/Mac computing - the cost of refreshing computers, the risk of ransomware attacks, the slow pace of wholesale migration to Chrome OS, the amount of time and effort IT spends supporting the OS status quo, and perhaps most importantly, the time students and teachers waste waiting through slow boot ups, battling through errors, and eye-rolling through lengthy, unexpected updates. Often, they don’t realize it’s an issue until they learn there’s something better.

A bit about our flagship solution: 

CloudReady is an operating system that transforms Windows and Mac computers up to 13 years old (no joke!) into Chromebooks. 

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Neverware actually guarantees support for this HP Mini 100e model through mid-2023, believe it or not!

 
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And some of the newest ones look like this:

Newer computers that have been converted to Chromebooks using CloudReady

They then behave just like Chromebooks or Chromeboxes for students, teachers, and for IT admins. Students & teachers get faster boot times and better performance (imagine: no more disruptive Windows updates, no freezes/crashes, etc.), and IT eliminates a lot of inefficiencies tied to the OS status quo: 

  • Paying for new computers every 3-5 years

  • Pushing out Group Policy, updates, and security patches

  • Paying for and deploying antivirus and malware software

  • Dealing with endpoint security vendors

  • Handling TONS of helpdesk tickets

  • Reimaging computers

  • Oftentimes, paying to outsource some or all of these

  • Oftentimes, paying to cope with ransomware attacks

These are just a handful of items on the long list of IT responsibilities, though, and solving them can easily fall behind other priorities, especially when some IT admins, teachers, and staff don’t know these are solvable problems, having never worked with anything other than Windows or Mac OS! They don’t know what they don’t know. And those that “get it” might not know how to frame how big an impact Chrome OS/CloudReady can have for their CIO and school district as a whole. 

What would it mean to leave Windows - partially or completely?

After all, it is the OS that everyone has used for the last 25 years!

It takes an open mind and bold leadership from the CIO (and even the superintendent/board) to highlight these inefficiencies, prioritize technology, and tackle them head on - for the benefit of the IT team, students, teachers, and the district’s overall health. If you’re still new to Chromebooks or want some back story on how Google became dominant in K-12 the last few years, here are 4 reasons why Superintendents and CIOs have chosen Chromebooks

And here are 12 ways you can use CloudReady to your advantage as CIO:

1. Save or stretch your budget. 

As CIO, you are under pressure to perform and take on greater and greater responsibility. From digital transformation initiatives to cybersecurity programs, data privacy compliance and physical security, IT supports practically every new initiative in school district today, and it’s dizzying. A couple of CIOs I work with have inherited maintenance responsibilities in their buildings, or work under the policy that if it plugs into an OUTLET, or goes on the network at all, it falls under IT’s responsibility! 

While overall budgets may be increasing for select districts’ IT teams, most are getting squeezed. Even districts that are not actively trying to shrink overall IT costs are expecting investment into new initiatives that drive new student outcomes and therein curtailing legacy infrastructure budgets. CIOs are getting asked to do much more with less, and faster, while totally understaffed. Just ask Hal Friedlander, former CIO for the NYC Department of Education, overseeing IT for over 1.2 million students:

 
 

Or Jeffrey St. Aime, who operates all things Google & IT for Henry County Schools, with 40,000+ students and 40,000+ Chromebooks.

 
 


2. Eliminate end-user obstacles

with faster boot times, better browsing speed, and improved performance. End-users report a 94% decrease in PC downtime normally lost to helpdesk calls, reboots and OS maintenance. As CIO, you are responsible for ensuring the technological productivity of your organization. If students, teachers, and staff can work with greater speed and focus, everyone wins. Technology should get out of their way, never impede them.

 
 

3. Keep Windows 7 computers running, secure and supported after end-of-life (EOL) occurs on Jan 14th, 2020. 

As CIO, you can’t leave Windows 7 computers on Windows 7 - they’re a major security threat on your network and for your district. Upgrading to Windows 10 might be an option, but many Windows 7 computers will not run Windows 10 well, and they might not even fit it on their old, small drives! CloudReady offers you a secure, manageable, and reliable alternative to keep your Windows 7 computers in production for years longer. See how Questar Assessments - a company of 500 people that helps districts across the country with digital testing - does it.

4. Eliminate malware, ransomware and data privacy vulnerabilities. 

Chromebooks are secure by default and cannot launch malware or ransomware. In fact, they’re among the most secure computers out there. As CIO, your superintendent and board are increasingly counting on you to protect the organization from malicious actors and the front page of the newspaper. You can take a giant leap forward by securing your endpoints and student and teacher data with CloudReady.

5. Save your team time. 

IT teams that shift to Chromebooks experience a 78% average drop in helpdesk tickets & never have to update, secure, patch or deploy Group Policy again. As CIO, you then get to decide whether to reduce or repurpose your staff toward more impactful activities that support your teachers and students in new ways.

6. Centralize device management and standardize end-user computing on Chrome. 

As CIO, you want a central view into computers across your organization and control over how they’re used. Google’s Admin console and Chrome device management greatly simplify this for IT and make reporting a breeze.

And students and teachers get a simple interface they already know and love with the Chrome browser. There’s a minimal learning curve, and you can get everyone on the same platform quickly.

7. Increase the useful life of computers (up to 13 years). 

Windows and Mac computers are made to last 3-4 years and then often slow down dramatically. Along with updates come new bloatware (default apps you might not need, background services, etc.), and the cycle perpetuates. It’s a version of planned obsolescence, so that OEMs (Apple, Dell, Lenovo, HP, etc.), resellers, and other service providers stay happy selling new computers, accessories, and services. While some CIOs sweat these assets up to eight or even ten years in rare cases, performance for students and teachers suffers greatly with native OSs, and the computers fall out of compliance with the latest apps and digital testing requirements. 

Kirk Langer at Lincoln Public Schools, an A+ district in Nebraska with 40,000+ students, used CloudReady to extend the useful life of 4,000 Dell Latitude laptops, saving his team support hours in the process.

 
 

CloudReady is made to run on computers up to 13 years old. The OS is designed around efficiency, and modern Chromebook specifications (RAM, storage & processor capability) are remarkably similar to 10-year-old Windows & Mac computers. So the computers run great up until they hit the 13-year mark and even after, allowing CIOs to put off or eliminate costly replacements every 3-4 years. Think your CFO will like that?

8. Easily set up secure kiosks. 

Whether it’s for VDI (Citrix, VMware, Nutanix, etc.), digital signage, sign-in stations, or to lock down computers for high-stakes activities like K-12 state testing, CloudReady and Chromebooks are the easiest way to turn any computer into a secure kiosk

Henry County Schools uses CloudReady for Georgia Milestones Testing (42,000+ students), and CIOs from the largest districts in the country utilize CloudReady and Chromebooks at scale for state testing.

Note: CloudReady is used for state testing in all 50 states and across all major testing platforms (AIR, TestNav, DRC, NWEA, Questar, i-Ready, etc.).

9. Show financial prudence and accountability

to your board, superintendent, CFO, taxpayers, teachers, and parents. When was the last time you gifted them cost savings, productivity boosts, and happier teachers and students that they didn’t expect or realize were possible?

Ramona Loiselle, IT Director at Coronado Unified School District, with ~3,000 students, saved $180,000 with CloudReady and nailed CAASPP testing.

10. Increase good device access 

by getting more computers in student hands, including backups for when kids lose, damage, or leave their computers at home. CIOs know the pain of not having enough computers all too well. Getting 1:1 (one computer per student) is no longer ahead of the curve, it’s the expectationMinimizing the cost and sustaining 1:1 is another story though, and utilizing existing computers helps. CIOs can also turn old, slow, and obsolete computers into good computers that students and teachers want to use again, increasing good access, affordably, all while making it easy for their team. 

Dwayne Alton, Executive Director of IT Infrastructure Services for The School District of Lee County, with 90,000+ students, used CloudReady to increase access, save money and ease the transition from Windows to Chrome at scale.

 
 

11. Establish a long-term, sustainable computer refresh cycle. 

Has your district already budgeted for a refresh in four years, or will it be caught taking cookies from the CapEx cookie jar? As CIO, it makes life easier for everyone when you’ve formulated a long-term plan to keep your computers updated and determined the most appropriate budget well ahead of time. If you can’t quite get where you want today, CloudReady is a great option to bridge the gap. In some cases, CIOs have told us we were even their lifeline, enabling them to get the computers they needed just-in-time and just-within-budget, when they didn’t expect it to be possible.

12. Avoid Chromebook auto-update expiration (AUE). 

CloudReady computers never stop getting updates, and models are supported until 13 years after their release date. With regular Chromebooks, you have to budget for new ones every 5-6 years, at a maximum. 

With CloudReady, you gain the flexibility to sweat your assets as long as you want, and to avoid the effort and cost to actually do a replacement so often. Some CIOs are even buying new and refurbished Windows computers + CloudReady to avoid AUE.

What do you think? Will you swim with the rising tide, or sink with the OS status quo?

Have you checked what districts around you are doing? Have they already begun swimming, or maybe even raced ahead?

 

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