Schools are characterized by large numbers of users all with similar technological needs. For example, in a school enrolling 500 students in the middle grades and providing one device for each student will need 500 identical devices. Deploying identical devices is particularly important for school populations as teachers must plan for all students to have similar capacity and they need to be able to support their students. Of course, the widespread use of Google Workspaces reduces the need to license and configure many types of software that previous generations of IT professionals found necessary. Updating Chromebooks, for example, requires only a few mouse clicks; far less work and much quicker than updating a full operating system.
Generations of technicians in schools managed devices that had full operating systems through freezing and imaging. Freezing means the system is configured as the technician intends, then put into the frozen state. Whenever the computer is restarted, it returns to the frozen state and all changes that have been made (except for some documents if the system is properly configured) are discarded. While approach to managing computers has become lesson common for a number of reasons, it is this an approached used to reduce maintenance demands on fleets of computers in schools.
Imaging means a technician would configure a computer in the manner they needed, then make a copy of the hard drive. Similar devices in the fleet that needed the same configuration would then receive a copy of that imaged hard drive. The technicians then updated the name of the device to allow for easier remote management and ensured software was properly licensed before deploying the device. The widespread adoption of could-based systems has reduced the need for IT staff to customize installations for different teachers and other professionals, which has reduced the task of managing devices.