The London District Catholic School System of Ontario, Canada has 47 elementary schools, nine secondary schools and two administrative buildings providing a full range of educational experiences to 18,000 students. The administrative, teaching and support staff are dedicated to teaching learners in a student-centered educational community that nurtures values, skills and the ability to learn based on each student’s potential and is directly linked to well defined and measurable outcomes.
Tasked with supporting a very large school district with 22,000 network users, the London District Catholic School System’s IT staff turned to Extreme Networks to implement a district-wide, centrally-managed wireless network to allow students and staff to bring their own devices and move seamlessly and securely between all 58 locations.
London District Catholic School System’s biggest challenge was that they did not have a single, enterprise wireless system campus-wide. Many of the schools were outfitted with individual consumer-grade APs which were unreliable. Lacking centralized management and monitoring for the network, the small IT staff spent a lot of time fighting fires.
With all applications running on the wireless and wired network – everything from VoIP phones, to web surfing to video/audio streaming – and plans to roll out mobility and BYOD, it was critical to provide a secure network environment that was ready for everything and anything that students, faculty and staff wanted to connect to it.
The new wireless solution would also need to interoperate with London District’s existing network and fit seamlessly with the network equipment that they already had.
Extreme Networks Solution
Total cost of ownership (TCO) and functionality were the two biggest factors that London District weighed as they reviewed wireless solutions from Extreme Networks, HP, Meru and Aruba. The decision to go with Extreme Networks ultimately came down to total cost of ownership (TCO) and Chris Dale, Supervisor of ICT Infrastructure Systems of London District Catholic School System says, “It was a very easy decision when it came down
to the numbers.”
London District’s Extreme Networks IdentiFi Wireless solution consists of four 5110 controllers in high availability mode and 150 Model 3600 and 3700 APs to provide reliable, roaming Wi-Fi access for any device at any campus location. The NetSight network management console and Wireless Manager reduces the network management complexity by bringing the entire network into one unified view, allowing London District’s small IT staff to easily manage and control the entire network from one central location.
“All of the schools have benefited from having very robust and pervasive Wi-Fi access. It doesn’t matter where in our schools
the students or staff go, there’s Wi-Fi available to them, which has greatly increased the satisfaction of our students, faculty and staff. From the management side, it’s been night and day; we’re no longer fighting fires all day and we can pinpoint rogue devices very quickly,” said Dale.
The Extreme Networks wireless network has enabled the London District Catholic School System to provide reliable and seamless Wi-Fi access to 22,000 users across 58 locations while easing the management burden for their small IT staff:
- Anytime, Anywhere Secure Wireless Access – The faculty, staff and students are “thrilled” with the new wireless network because once they are connected they are free to move seamlessly from building-to-building without ever needing to re-authenticate. “The option of a single SSID has enabled our users to easily move about our 58 campus locations while helping us to greatly improve network security in that we can provide common SSID’s and policies network-wide,” said Dale.
- Centralized Management – The NetSight network management console has brought the entire network into one, unified view for ease-of-management. London District is able to easily manage and support the Wi-Fi network across all 58 locations with their existing staff of just 1.5 people. “We are using NetSight in conjunction with three vendors, including Extreme Networks, and we have has absolutely no issues getting Extreme Networks to interconnect with other vendors. The fact I can manage the entire network with very little time and with very little staffing is great,” Dale.
- High-Performance Wireless Network – According to Dale, London Catholic has not experienced any issues with their new Extreme Networks Wi-Fi solution. As they look to support a BYOD program, enable online testing and enhance collaboration in the education environment with mobility London District is confident that their high- performance Extreme Networks wireless network is ready to handle everything and anything they put on it.
Of the overall experience working with Extreme Networks, Dale says, “I’ve been very happy working with the very professional and knowledgeable Extreme Networks team. The Extreme Networks Professional Services team worked hand-in-hand with London District’s IT team and guided them in the development and deployment of their wireless network. “Compared with other vendors, Extreme Networks is well above average,” said Dale.
With plans to increase bandwidth to meet their growing network demands, the new Extreme Networks wireless network will enable the London District Catholic School System to continue to leverage technology as they move to BYOD and online testing, move towards device agnostic applications and services, roll out analytics and support the flipped classroom to make significant use of the virtual learning environment.