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NComputing Desktop Virtualization Helps Change the Lives of Kandahar Women
NComputing Solution Helps Afghan-Canadian Community Center Teach Needed Skills In A Challenging Environment

NComputing announced that the Afghan-Canadian Community Center (ACCC), a post-secondary school in residential Kandahar, Afghanistan, has expanded the number of students it can support with the deployment of the NComputing solution.

The ACCC provides training where no other similar learning options are available. They currently teach information and computer technology skills, as well as business management, English, and health care to more than 200 students. In a region where it has been taboo to teach women these skills, the ACCC does so at no cost. Male students pay a small fee to cover their teachers' salaries. Women in the community also have access to an Internet-enabled computer lab where they can go online at no cost.

Like many organizations in emerging economies, the ACCC had been limping along on a few used and outdated PCs. But the revolutionary low cost of the NComputing solution allowed them to provide 24 computing stations for students, running on just four shared PCs, which were purchased with a grant from the provincial reconstruction team and other donations.

The NComputing solution is based on a simple fact: today's PCs are so powerful that the vast majority of applications only use a small fraction of the computer's capacity. NComputing's virtualization software and hardware tap this unused capacity so that multiple users can simultaneously share it. Each user's monitor, keyboard, and mouse connect to the shared PC through a small and very durable NComputing access device. The access device itself has no CPU, memory or moving parts like a PC so it is rugged and easy to deploy and maintain. As a result of deploying the NComputing solution, the ACCC cut its PC acquisition costs by 60%. NComputing has sold nearly one million seats to 20,000 organizations in more than 90 countries.

Power consumption is another huge problem for the ACCC and in many emerging economies. Because much of Kandahar has no infrastructure, the school depends on generators for the power it takes to run its computers. The cost of fuel, maintenance, and repairs for these generators is substantial, as much as $250 a month -- the equivalent of two teacher's salaries. The old PCs and monitors drew significant amounts of power, further draining the school's limited resources. Because NComputing access devices consume as little as 1 watt per user (versus 115 watts for a PC), and because the school now uses low-power LCD monitors, they have realized significant power savings, offsetting much of the growing cost of fuel.

"The NComputing solution has contributed greatly to the success of the ACCC," said the school's director, Ehsan Ullah. "After we installed the NComputing devices, our maintenance costs and power consumption were significantly reduced. With the new PCs purchased with grants from various sources, and fundraising efforts by our supporters at The Afghan School Project in Canada and others, more of our students are now learning valued skills that are leading to better jobs, more opportunities, and a better life for our people. Community members and visitors to Kandahar now see our school as an example of what's possible with 21st century computing technology. That recognition led Shah Ahmad Saeed, the Director of Foreign Affairs Kandahar to show his support by his recent generous donation of a high-speed computer to the ACCC, for which we are very grateful."

The Afghan School Project ( http://www.theafghanschool.org/) was founded by Ryan Aldred, a part-time sergeant in the Canadian Forces Army Reserve who also serves as the project's director. He was inspired by an article on Ehsan's work in the Toronto Star. "I was amazed at Ehsan's commitment, his ideas, and his dedication," said Mr. Aldred, "so I contacted the author of the article. He then introduced me to Ehsan. The Afghan School Project was born, and today it is a grassroots initiative that initially helped to establish, and continues to help operate, the ACCC."

"Helping to provide PC access to the millions and millions of users who could otherwise not afford it is not only changing the face of education, it's changing the world," said Stephen Dukker, Chairman and CEO of NComputing. "The ACCC is a shining example of what can happen when people gain this access as the people of Kandahar join the digital revolution. We are extremely proud of the part that the NComputing solution plays in driving these exciting and necessary changes."

The ACCC had looked at One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), as an option, but needed a solution that could work with standard office productivity software. Upon learning that NComputing offered these capabilities at a lower cost, the organization purchased the NComputing solution. The ACCC quickly found that maintenance and support costs were substantially reduced, as fewer PCs are needed, and the NComputing devices almost never break. The ACCC has also found that less heat is generated because there are fewer PCs and the NComputing devices generate virtually no heat at all. This is an important benefit that helps students be more comfortable while learning in the oppressive summer heat of Kandahar.

More than 600 women have taken courses at the ACCC, and many have successfully completed correspondence courses at Calgary, Canada-based Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT). A substantial number of these women have found gainful employment, in itself no easy feat in Kandahar. More importantly, these jobs are often with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that benefit from skilled employees with local knowledge, while paying salaries that are much higher than might otherwise be earned in Afghanistan. In fact, these office jobs pay as much as US$500-$600 a month versus typical regional salaries of US$45 a month. As a result, not only are their lives vastly changed, so are the lives of their families, their extended families, and their community.

About Virtualization News
SYS-CON's Virtualization News Desk trawls the news sources of the world for the latest details of virtualization technologies, products, and market trends, and provides breaking news updates from the Virtualization Conference & Expo.

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