Virtualized wireless networks deliver maximum network speed and access with less hands-on intervention.
WE HAVE SEEN AN INFLUX IN MOBILE DEVICES--tablets, smartphones and netbooks. A couple of years ago, as a technology department, we could be a little more obstinate about not allowing devices on our network. But there's been a lot more pressure from the curriculum side to allow these devices into the district. That's fueled by attractive price points, which have gotten much more affordable.
The influx of devices has forced us to look at our infrastructure. And, on top of that, the state has a mandatory online testing program coming in 2014 and 2015. This makes having networks capable of absorbing all these devices a necessity. A recent release of various assessment tools to help us see how prepared we were for the online testing program found a lot of districts did not have sufficient infrastructure to meet the requirements.
Impetus from the state and the desire for a BYOD initiative, coupled with our hope to provide guest access in our facilities, drove us to upgrade our wireless infrastructure at Sterling. We had a legacy infrastructure with 35 access points throughout the building. It was decentralized and very labor-intensive to manage.
Last summer we adopted the ADTRAN's vWLAN (virtual wireless LAN) in our building. We were happy with the implementation and saw drastic improvement in amount of data and access to the network. Some key lessons we learned in that process were:
* Centralized management is absolutely necessary. District technology is expanding at a rapid pace, but IT staff is not. The centralized IT management enables your department to work effectively and efficiently.
* Centralized management also gives us the ability to implement restrictions when we need it, and we can also see the type of traffic coming into our networks, so we can make sure we secure our networks and maximize the bandwidth at the same time.
* The infrastructure and centralized management made it possible to standardize classroom configurations. We are pushing data from teachers' devices in the classroom over our wireless infrastructure to our projection system.
* Virtualizing the bandwidth allows you to balance the needs across multiple buildings.
* New technology exposes other issues, such as the need to replace old cabling and potentially switches and routers. With a robust wireless network, an older 10/100 switch will be a bottleneck. You need gigabyte throughput to ensure the flow of data remains optimal.
* Bandwidth is much cheaper now and worth the investment. As districts move to more and more cloud-based services, you need as much bandwidth as you can get. And the price point is low.
* Think "high availability." This is essentially making sure you have redundant systems and fail-overs, eliminating single points of failure and reducing downtime. Internet access and the applications it supports is now something we depend on and we expect it to be there when we turn those devices on.
To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please go to http://www.districtadministration.com/ws041212.
Assistant Business Manager
South Jersey Technology Partnership