Purdue CIO Plans for the Post-PC Era

A university CIO says the future is mobile devices and desktop virtualization -- not traditional desktop PCs that are costly to support.

When Gerry McCartney, CIO at Purdue University , looks around his West Lafayette, Ind., campus, he doesn't see a future for the desktop PC.

He sees a multitude of mobile devices and a university wireless network that is used by 30,000 people per month.

Simply put, mobility rules.

McCartney doesn't know what devices will dominate his campus in the years ahead -- perhaps tablet computers, netbooks or some unknown device incubating in a lab somewhere. But there is one thing he does know about the future: It's time to get rid of desktop PCs.

"This idea that I have to go to a PC and sit down and use it is as quaint as having to go to a phone to use a phone," said McCartney, referring to land-line telephones.

Purdue faces the same problem confronting just about every other university in the U.S.: declining financial support. And a major cost at the school is the technical support needed for more than 20,000 PCs.

In a report issued last month, the university outlined a goal to cut recurring IT costs by $15 million over the next three years. Purdue now spends $100 million annually on IT.

With savings in mind, the school's central IT department has already implemented server virtualization , and it plans to move to a virtualized desktop infrastructure , replacing desktop PCs with centrally managed systems that deliver applications from servers.

"We have to fundamentally change the way we are doing business in IT," said McCartney.

The university also plans to consolidate data centers . It has 65 data centers -- which it defines as any place that has extra power and cooling to support IT equipment -- and wants to cut that number in half. Doing so should lead to substantial hardware and power savings.

This story was originally published in Computerworld 's print edition. It was adapted from an article that first ran on Computerworld.com.

Read more about pcs in Computerworld's PCs Knowledge Center.

This story, "Purdue CIO Plans for the Post-PC Era" was originally published by Computerworld.

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