Previously, I had mentioned that we were in the process of testing Google Chromebooks for use in Union County Public Schools. Since then, our testing has concluded, and we are preparing the third largest Chromebook deployment in the United States. We will be the largest deployment in the state of North Carolina.
The county has purchased 22,597 Lenovo X131e Chromebooks. This is a monumental undertaking and has required the addition of temporary staff to prepare these notebooks for use next year. We have tested the Chromebooks extensively, including pilots at various locations.
Overall, I believe the county will be happy with the Chromebooks once they overcome the learning curve. After briefly testing the Chromebooks, I washed my hands of most of the testing and our the systems were handed over to our project manager. From there, he has worked to create a schedule and plan for the summer changeover.
From an enterprise standpoint, Chromebooks present a number of interesting issues. For one, the always-on, cloud connectivity means that users are almost always pulling data off of the Internet. Without the proper infrastructure, this can prove disastrous. These metrics are impossible to capture, and makes much of this network utilization gain a mystery.
Due to federal and state guidelines, we are required to filter each and every machine that we own, including when they leave our network. Because of this, we will route the Chromebooks back through our DMZ to our Sophos web filters. The Chromebooks work well enough with PAC files, but not fantastically.
This has likely been my largest task with the Chromebook deployment. I have worked closely with the team here and Sophos to attempt to scale out our filters to support this number of users. We are going to see quite an increase in traffic as we expand our 1:1 initiative from grades six through nine to grades six through twelve.
As the school year draws to an end, I’m quite antsy to see how well this goes. We’ve got a lot of work to do this summer to make this successful, but I’m certainly looking forward to the task. It’s always exciting to do something new.0