Saskatchewan pilots education portal

Four Saskatchewan school boards teamed up last summer with SaskTel and Sun Microsystems of Canada Inc. to create, a web-based technology and network computing deployment for grades Kindergarten to 12. By autumn, 42 schools in the Moose Jaw and North Battleford public and separate school divisions had 3,300 Sun Ray appliances installed in classrooms, libraries, administrative offices and at teachers’ desks.

The Sun Ray systems provide more than 11,000 students and 800 faculty, administrators and school officials with access to on-line educational materials, resources and curriculum through the education portal hosted by, SaskTel’s application service provider arm.

Sun Ray appliances process only keyboard input and screen output, leaving all of the application processing and storage to the server. Sun Enterprise 250 and 450 servers running Solaris operating environment comprise the backbone of the network serving the schools located in the four districts. At the core of SaskTel’s network infrastructure is a Sun Enterprise 10000 server.

Garry Mees, director of business development for Sun Microsystems of Canada, reports “the school boards purchased the equipment although since this was the largest pilot that Sun had ever done with this many systems, we had an investment kind of a relationship as well. We’re trying to prove the concept that web-based portal computing works in education — and it does!”

Mees notes that Sun also provides Star Office, Solaris and development tools free to universities. In the current fiscal quarter, he adds, Sun has given “a third of a million dollars in equipment donations to universities in Canada.”