Posted by: Crowe | August 1, 2007

“Some days you’re the pigeon, some days you’re the statue.” David Brent

I saw a comic strip taped to the counter at a convenience store the other day that read, “Some days you’re the pigeon, some days you’re the statue.” This has been one of those weeks.

I am currently involved in opening 2 new charter high schools before August 15th and have run into issue after issue. Most of the issues I’m referring to have occurred through the implementation of new, unfamiliar technologies and equipment.

Issue #1 – Implementing HP 5412zl Chassis switches into a pre-existing Cisco-only network.

The HP ProCurve switches are great. There are so many benefits to choosing HP over Cisco for this project. For Example:
1. Lifetime Support – Free!
2. 528 (depends on how you configure it) – 10/ 100/ 1000 Ports per switch (we have 2 of them) – meaning Gbit to every desktop
3. POE on every port with the option to add additional power by increasing the number of externally connected PSUs
4. Significant cost savings over the equivalent # of ports on a Cisco switch (Chassis or stack)

However, there are some issues when integrating them into a Cisco environment, particularly on like ours with a Cisco Unity phone system and multiple VLANs. We are still learning, but HP seems to do trunking, VLAN tagging, and spanning-tree a little different than Cisco. We’re worked through the initial setup in a few hours with on-site support from our vendor, but it will take a bit more practice and education before we feel comfortable managing these switches on our own.

Issue #2 – Replacing Dell desktop PCs with WYSE Thin Clients and Citrix

Teenagers are hard on PCs. At the end of last school year, the PCs we brought back from one of our pre-existing schools were in sad shape. There were broken cases, broken CD-Rom drives, and several other missing components. Repair and replacement was time-consuming, even with the PCs under warranty.
High School students are also very clever. We fought a losing battle last year with external applications being run from USB devices. Proxy and tunneling applications (such as TORpark, now called XeroBank Browser) made up for the majority of the issues. It seems kids WILL find ways to get to MySpace.

With our Citrix/ thin client solution, we determine the desktop settings and applications and the use of USB devices are denied at the hardware level. Unfortunately, everytime you think you have everything covered in the config, something else comes up. I think we’re about there, but the first week of school will be the only way to tell for sure.

Either way, I’ve had a lot of late nights/ all-nighters lately to meet these deadlines and will be so glad to see the schools open successfully!



  1. I really like the idea of replacing desktop PCs with thin clients. What is the cost differential in doing this vs the desktops?

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