Schools present significant challenges to those who hope to deploy wireless networks supporting BYOD. There are things like huge spikes in activity and movement as entire schools move from classroom to classroom as one period ends and another one begins. There is the need for a well segmented network, supporting differing levels of access for guests, students and staff. There are additional challenges around the physical plant of the building as well, with many schools being built with steel frame construction that makes it like doing wifi in a Faraday cage.
The coming of BYOD, an event which has traumatized corporate IT since the first silver haired gent in the corner office handed a somewhat befuddled and surprised Tier 1 desktop support tech an iPhone or an iPad and told him to hook it up to the network, has now come to schools. Students who in the past may have taken a class in a computer lab with hardwired machines now expect to be able to use the network with personal devices – smartphones, tablets and even laptops. For schools this is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that budgets are tight and there is often little or no money for end point devices, so when students and staff bring their own the benefits are immediate and clear. Curse in that the proliferation of devices creates additional demand on the network, not just the access points but also the controllers and Ethernet network behind the access points.
Let me explain. Some of the big names in wireless have architectures where traffic is backhauled from access points through a controller before being passed on to the rest of the network. All wireless traffic has to go through the controller, creating an obvious bottleneck. More sophisticated designs, such as the architectures used in Extreme Networks wireless deployments, have the controller in the background with data routed in the wired data plane – in other words the controller tells the switches in the network how to handle traffic rather than having to do the heavy lifting itself. This distributed forwarding model scales better, delivers higher performance and tends to be more reliable. Things you would want in an academic, or any, network.
We invite you to read our latest academic success story, the story of how Extreme Networks helped the Stillwater Area Public Schools deliver better wireless to almost 9000 students in over a dozen different schools, here.
We also invite you to explore our Mobile Student Solution area, here. If you prefer, we also have a video we made with the Boulder Valley School District about their experiences deploying Extreme Networks wireless http://extremenetworks.com/libraries/premium-video.aspx?idurl=ETQ2QsERtfs.