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School of Rock tops the charts with Google Apps for Business and Chromebooks

Posted by Evan Trent, Vice President of Digital Strategy and Technology, School of Rock

Editors note: Today’s guest blogger is Evan Trent, Vice President of Digital Strategy and Technology at School of Rock, a national music program headquartered in Burr Ridge, Illinois. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

For more than a decade, School of Rock has been inspiring kids to rock on stage and in life. We offer music lessons on guitar, bass, piano, vocals and drums in a performance-based environment at over 90 company-owned and franchised schools in the U.S. and Mexico. Our goal is to inspire our students to learn, motivate them to excel, and, as a result, help them to gain confidence.

We’ve been growing rapidly in recent years, primarily been through franchising. We ran Microsoft® Exchange for years, but as the number of franchise schools continued to grow, we found it more and more difficult to offer a simple start-up process and manage and deliver remote support. We needed to move to a web-based solution that didn’t require multiple installations, software updates, and desktop support. After researching a few different options, we found Google Apps for Business had the tools we needed to rock on. We also found that many of our franchisees were already big fans of Google products and were using them outside of School of Rock.

We began the transition to Google Apps in January 2012 through our implementation partner, Cloud Sherpas. The migration was straightforward, and Cloud Sherpas offered training sessions for our employees and franchise partners to ensure a seamless transition. Google Apps completely transformed how we work with our franchisees and how each location works together as a team. Sharing information with students, faculty and parents has become much easier with Google Docs and Google Groups. We also find Google’s mobile-friendly approach in tune with our younger and more mobile employees.

Since we struck an amazing chord with Google Apps, we also decided to rethink our PC-based culture. We no longer wanted to deal with the administrative overhead and the security and reliability issues that came with traditional PCs. So in March, we deployed Google Chromebooks to about one quarter of our locations, and we’ve been rolling them out to increasingly more schools. We use them for just about everything, from accounting to video conferencing to putting on shows. The Chromebooks are extremely fast, require zero support, are easy to manage across multiple remote locations, and they cost only a few hundred dollars each. They’ve also been incredibly helpful for those of us who travel often since the battery life often lasts much longer than our previous PCs and they have built-in 3G access.

Google Apps for Business and Chromebooks have greatly reduced the time, money and energy our franchisees need to invest in technology, and that’s music to our ears.