Le Jardin Academy (LJA) is an independent International Baccalaureate World School located on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Globally oriented with a strong sense of community, LJA equips students with the skills they need to achieve individual excellence, develop sound character, and positively impact the world.
With a keen belief that investing in education technology helps students and teachers connect with the outside world and engage in active learning, LJA looked to upgrade their network. The time had come to more effectively manage and support their BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program in grades 6-12 and the soon to be adopted 1:1 Chromebook program in grades 3-5. LJA chose to upgrade their two-campus, 10-building network with an Extreme Networks managed services solution. The multi-phase project saw the installation of switches, then wireless network, and finally a move to hosted and managed services. The result is less capital spending and a much more reliable network infrastructure.
A Balancing Act: Infrastructure and Education Technology
LJA had similar challenges that are expected at a K-12 school: the normal security issues associated with student BYOD devices such as attempted network security breaches, viruses, and phishing for executive information. The school was challenged with getting enough internet bandwidth to handle a large number of devices seeking network access.
The school’s location also contributes to a less than ideal power grid, which has resulted in power surges and outages a few times per year. The school required a solution to ensure that their 800+ students and 130+ faculty and staff was always reliably connected.
With two full-time team members managing the school’s network, it was a lot of work to balance all of the infrastructure and hardware requirements of the Internet connected campus and refocus their attention and funding to meet the demands of the educational technology side. In addition to managing the network, the IT team also provides help desk support, manages data systems, conducts teacher training, and keeps all of the different parts of the environment working together.
Wanting to move away from a model where everything is done in-house to a “utility” model, LJA looked to shift from an on-premise infrastructure to a cloud-managed networking solution that would free up time and money – resources they could invest in more technology for the classroom to enhance the learning experience in support of the school’s core goals.
Simplified Network Management = Expanded Learning Opportunities
When it came to upgrading their infrastructure, LJA’s Director of Education Technology Melissa Handy, was concerned about spending too many resources on infrastructure and not enough on education technology. “We don’t need a fancy network, we need a reliable one,” said Handy. Impressed with the Extreme wireless solution that was deployed at their Junior School, and based on her previous positive experience with Extreme’s Global Technical Assistance Center (GTAC), Handy decided to go with Extreme throughout the main K-12 campus. “The total cost of ownership (TCO), support and longevity of the products means that we have more time to do the classroom work.”
LJA upgraded their core network and added ExtremeWireless to their main K-12 campus, giving them enough Internet and network bandwidth to allow the teachers to access the network with outstanding performance and to allow students to bring unlimited devices. “One of the greatest improvements from a user standpoint was adding more wireless internet bandwidth. We are at 99% uptime which, considering our power challenges, is very good.” says Handy.
The ability to manage and control wireless access for their BYOD network has been a huge win for the school. Previously, they weren’t able to control who and what devices accessed the wireless network. Now, with ExtremeControl and ExtremeManagement, the IT team easily sets rules which allow them to segregate the network by user type and give students, faculty, and staff appropriate access to resources.
Better Meeting Students Needs with a Managed Solution
Moving from the data center to a managed solution has paved the way for many improvements. The LJA IT team now spends less time managing the hardware infrastructure. The biggest win is that power outages no longer impact the integrity of the network. “We love managed services,” says Handy, “With the managed services approach, we are reducing hardware costs and time managing the network, and we are firefighting less – thanks to a more reliable network.”
This time and cost savings allows Handy to focus on both physical and virtual security, as well as invest in classroom technology. “From a network standpoint, we are very pleased with what we have. I used to get a refreshed network every three years, but now by migrating to a cloud-based solution we don’t need to constantly rip and replace. Because we are not in charge of those upgrades anymore, I can spend my time and energy on security: making sure we know what is going on across our physical campus and training more people on cybersecurity and PCI compliance. In the classroom, I can focus on helping teachers and students use technology for learning in the most impactful way,” said Handy.
Handy has nothing but positive things to say about her experience with Extreme. One of the things she is most impressed with is the cohesiveness of the Extreme team. “Whenever I need something they don’t hand me off to another person,” says Handy. Whoever is there is ready, willing, and able to help.” Being in a different time zone could make it difficult to find support, so she really appreciates being able to call the 24×7 available GTAC anytime she needs someone. According the Handy, “We get extremely excellent service from GTAC.”