Red Hat has open sourced Spacewalk, its systems management solution. This should be very useful for schools. In fact, I used (i.e., paid for) this service in the past, including at school, when it was proprietary and only hosted by Red Hat and really liked it. This lets you:
- Inventory your systems (hardware and software information)
- Install and update software on your systems
- Collect and distribute your custom software packages into manageable groups
- Provision (kickstart) your systems
- Manage and deploy configuration files to your systems
- Monitor your systems
- Provision and start/stop/configure virtual guests
- Distribute content across multiple geographical sites in an efficient manner.
It should be robust enough to scale across an entire school district or region, although Red Hat's thinking is that if you're basing that much of your enterprise on it, you'd prefer the peace of mind that comes with service from Red Hat. But you don't have to. You can pilot it in a school for a year without so much as shaking hands with a salesman, decide if you like it and can reasonably host it locally, purchase service from Red Hat if you can't, or purchase service from someone else, and change if circumstances change. A responsible approach to spending taxpayer money, I'd say.