“I’ve got lots of computers at my school!”

Interesting conversation today whilst looking at the development of ICT for an Academy. Like many, it is being taken over whilst in the existing schools (all through) but the obvious ICT audit is required to see what they already have in place. This will make sure that the vision for the school and how technology will move it forward is actually possible withthe existing and planned resources.

Common sense? I thought so too but it seems that a major failing that occurs is that although school may have the flashiest desktops and lots of laptops there are still a number of examples where the infrastructure and backend (cables, swithces, servers, power requirements, storage, backup systems) is underfunded … usually because senior manglement only invest at the desk.

Wouldn’t it be nice if when you planned your desktop expenditure you also put on a ‘backend’ overhead so that it is included in the costing or at least put to one side to allow for backend / infrastructure investment every other year or so.

I know it will vary from set up to set up and the technology used (eg thin client, MS based, Mac based, etc) but what figure would you stick on there? 2%, 5%, 10%, 15%? How did you get that figure?

3 replies on ““I’ve got lots of computers at my school!””

Hi – I used to work for the Becta team charged with sorting out Academy infrastructure – these issues should be led by a Becta consultant…is there not one involved?

All the Academies I worked on – and there were many – started from the premise that the infrastructure was the foundation – get this right and then everything else will follow. Maybe things have changed since I left Becta but my former team worked really hard to ensure Academies all had this covered!

Thanks for the post on this.


It’s complicated further by the fact that your desktop has a relatively short upgrade cycle compared with your infrastructure and in my experience the server backend too.

For a new build, you will have a load of upfront infrastructure and backend costs which won’t be representative of the long-term picture.

As a first approximation, the cost of getting a desktop running is:

The PC and screen (£400)
Licenses for the PC (£0 – £500, i.e. very variable)
The cost of putting a network point on the wall (£50)
The cost of running the cable to the network point (including trunking divided by number of cables inside it) (£50)
The cost of a 48 port switch divided by 48 (£50)
The cost of a backbone link to the network core divided by the number of devices on that link at the point when it reaches capacity (£?)
The cost of a core switch or switches divided by the number of devices on the network (£5-10?)
The total cost of servers divided by the number of devices on the network(£???)
The total cost of server licenses divided by the number of devices on the network(£???)
The total cost of UPSs divided by the number of devices on the network(£3?)
The total cost of cabinets divided by the number of devices on the network(£5?)
Electricity (£0 – it’s free! 😉 )

Then you need to work out the replacement cycle of each to get an annual rate. It would also make sense to look at scaling – if you double the number of desktops on the network, will that double the backend cost? For some of the above it will, but it’s unlikely to double the cost of servers. Also, I’m not sure a percentage would really work – a more expensive device won’t necessarily consume more resources – to me a flat fee makes more sense.

Of course you could always get $consultancyFirm in to work out all the sums like P4S would.

Hi Kevin

Yes, the Academy planning takes this pretty much into account but there are still many, many schools out there that are not falling under Academy / BSF / PFI programs and some are making faults due to either poor planning (a decreasing problem in my experience) or poor decisions at senior levels in the school due to lack of understanding about sustainability.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *