For Questar, CloudReady supports K-12 digital testing externally...while providing new life internally for the company’s legacy Windows devices
Questar Assessment is a K-12 assessment solutions provider focused on developing and delivering meaningful measures of student progress, operating under the guiding principle that better measurement solutions can make a positive impact by providing educators with the insights they need to improve instruction.
Although Questar is over 40 years old, the company has changed its focus in the past few years, embarking on an unprecedented growth trajectory after transforming itself into a software development company. In 2015, after the company developed a Chrome version of the secure browser it uses to administer exams, it began using Chromebooks in its QA department.
A customer request for support
When Questar’s customer service department was approached by a mutual Questar/Neverware customer to inquire whether CloudReady was also a supported OS for Questar’s secure browser testing platform, Questar’s Infrastructure team decided to see if this was possible.
“As we didn’t have any CloudReady devices, I downloaded a copy of the operating system and installed it on a spare laptop,” said Nicholas Winnie, a senior systems administrator at Questar. “After reading about CloudReady, I discovered it was managed using the same management console we use for our existing Chrome OS devices, and I was able to deploy our secure browser using our existing methods. After verifying compatibility, we added CloudReady devices to our QA process.”
Exploring additional use cases
Following success with CloudReady in the QA department, Questar started exploring additional use cases. Since Questar had shifted its strategy in recent years to emphasize modernizing the technology used in the organization and replacing legacy equipment, CloudReady seemed like a natural fit.
“We had a lot of devices that no longer ran Windows well, yet still had good value to the organization,” Winnie explained. “We had a choice of retiring the devices and purchasing new, giving them a new life using Chrome OS, or using them as terminals to connect to our VDI environments.
“Using the devices as terminals would have worked well, but the device would be very limited without a connection to our VDI environment. With CloudReady, we can connect to our VDI environment, yet if we lose connection, we still have a functional device.”
Implementing a blind CloudReady pilot
Questar implemented a pilot program in which they put CloudReady devices next to Chromebooks and didn’t tell employees that anything was different.
“We wanted to see if anyone noticed the difference or any issues with compatibility,” Winnie said. “The pilot was a success as no issues were reported with the CloudReady device and no one noticed a difference in how it performed.”
According to Winnie, Questar was able to use existing hardware replacement budget for the CloudReady purchase, justifying it with the expected cost savings from using CloudReady and eliminating associated PC licensing cost.
“I’m using this new strategy to build a foundation to create reliable, secure, and scalable systems in our data centers and the endpoints we use in our offices. CloudReady devices allow us to set up a device and forget it as they are consistently reliable.”
“I’m using this new strategy to build a foundation to create reliable, secure, and scalable systems in our data centers and the endpoints we use in our offices,” Winnie noted. “CloudReady devices allow us to set up a device and forget it as they are consistently reliable. Our employees are able to focus on other priorities as we don’t have to worry about a device not working.”
Advantage: CloudReady & Chrome OS
In fact, Winnie said, employees now request Chrome OS devices for the company’s remote workshops due to the devices’ speed and reliability. Other advantages to using CloudReady include its simple deployment using the same mass deployment technologies that Questar uses for its Windows deployments.
“CloudReady solved our issue of retiring devices that no longer ran Windows well. They are also easier to manage using the same management tools we use for our other devices and update automatically,” Winnie explained. “As we retire our legacy Windows 7 systems, we look to Chrome OS as our first option to meet the business and technical requirements.”
“CloudReady solved our issue of retiring devices that no longer ran Windows well. They are also easier to manage using the same management tools we use for our other devices and update automatically.”
Winnie concluded, “We had an idea of the environments where we wanted to deploy CloudReady; however, we continue to find new use cases that we hadn’t initially planned. As devices mature, we’ll continue to use CloudReady as a reliable operating system and Neverware as a trusted partner.”
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- Windows 7