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Thin Client Computing Model Brings New Operational and Cost Efficiencies to Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Public Schools

New model benefits everything from IT staffing efficiency to classroom discipline

Nov 8, 2001

November, 8, 2001 - A distributed computing platform based on Evo T20 thin client technology and industry-leading ProLiant servers from Compaq Computer Corporation (NYSE:CPQ), and the leading thin client silicon solution from National Semiconductor Corporation (NYSE:NSM), is making a difference for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro, City Public Schools in everything from efficiency in the deployment of its IT staff to classroom discipline.

Located in the piedmont area of eastern North Carolina, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district supports more than 3,500 traditional desktop computers in its classrooms and administrative offices.  By industry standards the system should have an IT staff of more than 60.  In reality, the IT staff serving the district numbers fewer than 12. 

In the first phase of this effort, Ray Reitz, chief technology officer for the school district, has implemented the thin client model in two middle schools.  He says over the long term, the new approach will mean significant savings in time and money over the traditional individual-desktop-system computing model most often seen in schools. 

"The old model was very inefficient for us," Reitz said.  "It required our technicians to physically touch every computer needing maintenance or an upgrade, a process that sometimes took months.  With the thin client model, each server we upgrade immediately updates dozens of desktop units in the classrooms.  It's simple, easily supportable, reliable and is cost-effective over the long-term.  Those things are exactly what we needed."

Thin client architecture is most often seen in corporate environments.  It places the software applications and storage capacity on servers at a central location while the desktop device, which contains no moving parts or storage capacity, operates only to send and receive commands to and from the server.  The system is designed to simplify administration and support of the user desktop, resulting in lower overall operational and ownership costs.

"The implementation of Compaq thin client architecture in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro city schools is an excellent example of bringing the operational and cost efficiencies normally associated with the business world into the K-12 environment," said Jim Weynand, vice president, government and education markets for Compaq.  "Their situation is custom-made for a thin client solution.  This will provide a long-term solution for the system's classroom and administrative computing needs."

"The implementation of Compaq thin client architecture in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro city schools should serve as a model for other school districts that are looking for similar efficiencies," said George Warren, director, K-12 education markets for Compaq.  "We appreciate and value the partnership with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro city schools."

The Evo Thin Client T20 units in use in the classrooms have at their heart the industry-leading Geode(tm) integrated processor from National Semiconductor. 

"As the thin client technology leader, National is committed to providing the optimal computing solution for educators and students," said Leslie Bane, Thin Client @ School? program manager at National Semiconductor.  "National works very close with schools and device manufacturers to understand what they expect from our latest thin-client technologies and then we work to deliver what they need."

The desktop units are networked to industry standard Compaq ProLiant DL360 and ML370 servers.

Designed for rack mounting, the Compaq ProLiant DL360 server offers a high level of availability, scalability and stability at an affordable price.  The ProLiant ML370 shares the attributes of the ProLiant DL360 and in addition can be configured for rack mounting or deployed as a freestanding tower.  Together the two servers are ideal for supporting the multi-user needs of a classroom setting.

The school district selected server application software from Citrix Systems, Inc. (NYSE:CTXS) of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  The software application enables the thin client network to support legacy PC devices and other operating systems still in use in system classrooms and offices.

Technology integration for the project was provided by ClassLink Technologies.  ClassLink configured the servers with the school district's software applications and pre-loaded teacher accounts.  The company provided training and support for teachers, technology staff members and administrators.

The thin client network has been configured to allow students and teachers to access the network-and thus their files-from home.  Reitz says this has proven to be a very useful, convenient and welcomed feature that is getting significant use. 

Reitz says increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the IT staff was an expected benefit of the thin client model.  An unexpected benefit is that the model is actually contributing to a more productive classroom environment. 

"Teachers tell us that because the network is up and waiting on the student when he or she sits down at the keyboard, the student starts working immediately," Reitz said.  "Not having to wait on a computer to boot up and load its applications translates into less fidgeting by the students, less talking among each other and more learning."

Reitz says early results and enthusiasm about the thin client model have convinced him that it should be implemented on a broader scale.  The system expects to do that in the coming months.

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About Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools is one of two public school systems in Orange County, N.C. Located near the flagship campus of the University of North Carolina and the Research Triangle Park, the district serves a community with one of the highest most highly-educated populations in America. The district operates two high schools, four middle schools and eight elementary schools serving more than 10,000 students.  More information on CHCSS is available at www.chccs.k12.nc.us.

About Compaq
Founded in 1982, Compaq Computer Corporation ("Compaq") is a leading global provider of enterprise technology and solutions.  Compaq designs, develops, manufactures and markets hardware, software, solutions and services, including industry-leading enterprise storage and computing solutions, fault-tolerant business-critical solutions, communication products, and desktop and portable personal computers that are sold in more than 200 countries.  Information on Compaq and its products and services is available at www.compaq.com

About National Semiconductor
National Semiconductor is the premier analog company driving the information age. Combining real-world analog and state-of-the-art digital technology, the company is focused on the fast growing markets for wireless handsets; information appliances; information infrastructure; and display, imaging and human interface technologies.  With headquarters in Santa Clara, California, National reported sales of $2.1 billion for fiscal year 2001 and employs about 9,700 people worldwide.  Additional company and product information is available on the World Wide Web at www.national.com