We often talk about the general issue of the digital divide, students who don’t have access to computers and / or Internet at school or at home. But there is a growing number of schools that sit on a large pile of defunct hardware in computer labs with machines either being completely outdated and slow or broken altogether. On top of that budget cuts prevent schools from making investments into the infrastructure or even hiring a fulltime IT administrator.
Enter Neverware. Back in the days when I worked as IT administrator mainframe technology was a pretty common concept especially in the public sector. You had the servers that did all the work and the user would essentially work on a screen with a keyboard and mouse. Of course, those work stations were very limited and essentially just access points to databases but Neverware is built upon the same principle.
Neverware’s server unit is called Juicebox and it can power up to 150 workstations which then look and feel and run like Windows 7 PCs. There are several upsides in running a computer lab on Neverware. As the heavy lifting is done by the Juicebox server unit, it does not matter how old the hardware in the room is. As long as the monitor, keyboard and mouse work the students will be able to work as if they used brand new Windows machines. Also, the IT staff only has to worry about one computer which also takes care of virus and other malicious attacks.
According to The Verge Neverware can operate at a fifth of the price of the established brands in the space like Cisco and VMWare. Being a startup there is of course the downside of having a small team hence customer service might become a growing pain when more and more schools switch to Neverware.
Right now Neverware is used in 50 New York schools and now plans to expand U.S. wide with the new funding round.