School computer systems "uneconomic to support"

Computer systems supplied to schools and colleges are so complex that they are uneconomical for suppliers to properly support, according to new research.

The report by open source consulting firm Sirius Consulting found that most schools cannot afford to pay for commercial support leaving them to waste over half their annual budgets on staff salaries.

The report urged educational establishments to "adopt thin-client systems that were largely maintenance-free".

The author of the study Dr. John Spencer said that ICT suppliers approved by British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) were selling equipment that they can't afford to support. "It's like buying a car and then having to employ your own full-time mechanic to keep it on the road," he said.

"The government is pouring millions into school's ICT resources but most of the money goes on funding the staff needed to keep the systems going."

The report stated that Becta director Steven Lucey admitted Becta's ICT model for schools is unsustainable. While DfES advice and Becta's procurement frameworks continued "to promote high maintenance, fat-client solutions that damage the environment," the report said.

"Most ICT staff time is spent on mundane tasks like rebooting PCs or running anti-virus software. Open Source thin-client networks don't get Windows viruses and can be managed by one person from the server room," said Spencer.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.