Technology Budget Solutions: CloudReady by Neverware

As one of Amplified IT’s first partners, we appreciate CloudReady’s ability to offer cost-saving solutions to enhance the growth of schools’ technology programs.  Our team had the opportunity to speak to Karen Fraser and Tad Hawkins of Trillium Lakelands District School Board about their use of CloudReady by Neverware. CloudReady is based on Google’s open source Chromium OS, which can be installed on existing PCs and Macs, allowing schools to repurpose their existing hardware.  Here is a deep dive video of CloudReady to see more.

Part of Trillium Lakelands success is the inclusion of Cloudready by Neverware in their arsenal.  Karen Fraser, IT Director at Trillium Lakelands notes, “We have embraced Google’s education system so Chromebooks and Neverware play an important role.”  Their first Chromebooks arrived in the district in 2014. Since then, their tremendous growth can be partly attributed to the ability to scale their 1:1 program by utilizing Cloudready software.  By the end of this year, they will have converted 600 non-Chrome OS machines to fully functional Chrome devices using the resources they already had available to them.

We feel their experience speaks for itself; read on to find out how CloudReady was implemented in their district and if it could be a good fit for your technology program.

What does your current mix of OS platforms look like, and how has it evolved with your use case?

We have a mix of Windows laptops/desktops, iPads, and Chrome devices. We are seeing a small decline in Windows devices, a significant drop in iPad purchases and a huge increase of Chrome devices in the last two years.

Our usage mix is based entirely on the division and the subject areas. Labs tend to be primarily in secondary for obvious reasons, and mostly Windows devices as they are teaching to specific products based on the subject, ex: MS Office, AutoCAD or Adobe Creative Cloud. Secondary schools are starting to embrace Chrome devices, and are placing Neverware machines in areas where research would be the primary focus: libraries, sign in labs, etc.

In elementary, there has been an overwhelming growth of Chrome devices and this year schools are making the investment in CloudReady as an answer to declining technology funds.

What led you to consider CloudReady as opposed to traditional options?

We evaluated CloudReady about two years ago now and thought this was a good opportunity to supplement shortfalls in schools where there was the need for devices for research, basic G Suite apps, and online work. This was a good all-around fit as it filled a gap that was needed for educational technology, was economical and allowed us to divert product that was obsolete and would otherwise become e-waste.

How have your perceptions of CloudReady changed since your first initial pilot?

For me, initially I did not take the solution seriously, it was a good idea and way to put a few machines in very specific areas but over time, I realize this is something we can seriously make use of and need both for quality resources and to offset decreased funds.

My techs love the idea of minimal touch management, they install it, join the domain and they are done.

What sort of feedback have you received from the teachers who use CloudReady?

Teachers initially are skeptical of CloudReady machines until they have the chance to use them and discover that for students who need a place to research and create docs, slides, sheets etc, and other basic functionality, this meets the need and they are pleased to be able to increase their numbers in a cost-effective manner.

What is your perception of CloudReady and its performance in your district?

CloudReady is awesome in that it does not matter if we have 100 or a thousand of these, we manage them centrally and there is little to no maintenance on them. We deploy, move them to the correct sub-organization and we are done. Just a small amount of initial admin setup and we are good to go!

Which problems does CloudReady help you solve?

We not only were able to maintain the status quo in schools with declining technology funds and a loss of machines due to machines becoming obsolete, in some locations we were able to supplement with additional technology. We were also able to divert several hundred devices from e-waste for a longer life cycle.

So, how much money has Trillium Lakelands saved by utilizing CloudReady software instead of purchasing new devices?

By turning in 600 computers to CloudReady devices, they were able to get devices at 1/6th of the cost. Normally would be $180,000 @ $300 per new Chromebook, but instead they spent ~$30,000, saving ~$150,000.

Interested in learning more about CloudReady, pricing, and consultancy?  

Book a call with Catherine Weers, Partnership Manager, if you’d like to discuss if CloudReady by Neverware is right for your schools.

Trillium Lakelands District School Board, a progressive School Board in Ontario, has been a customer of Amplified IT since early 2016. They have engaged with every “arm” of business, including being a Labs Unlimited customer, a North American Google Technical Collaborative Member, going through the Audit process of their G Suite EDU domain, and they have done an incredible job optimizing the resources they have in their disposal. Amplified IT proudly works with them to help drive changes that positively impact student learning, while also being cost-efficient.  Thank you, Karen and Tad, for taking the time to walk us through your use of CloudReady so we could share it with others!

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  • Catherine Weers
    Partnership Manager

  • About the Author:

    Catherine Weers joined the Amplified IT team in 2017 after 13 years working in Public Schools as an educator and Technology Coordinator. She has a rich history in Educational Technology. Today, she is the Partnership Manager where she is in charge of ensuring schools get the right tools to fit their individual needs in security, Chromebook management, web filtering, backup solutions and much more. She is your #1 resource so feel free to ping her and chat about how she can help your district find the right fit.