When you hear the plaintive chords from Bob Dylan’s harmonica in this song, you understand that he’s talking about a transformative change that will come, regardless of what tries to slow it down.
Recently I visited a rural school district on the plains of Colorado to conduct a wireless site survey with my engineer. With nothing but the windshield in front of us and the radio on, we chatted about how integral IT solutions have become to school districts. With challenging economic conditions and in many cases, outdated infrastructure, how do schools ensure their students are prepared for the future?
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Besides some fast food joints and gas stations, here is the only structure that broke the skyline. Behind that cattle fence and the barbed wire is proof that regardless how remote a community is, they still want to stay connected via technology.
We arrived and saw one of the most exciting signs (literally in this case) that a sales team can see:
New Construction! Great, we have a fresh start – no worrying about the legacy of old vendors, out of date infrastructure, or well intentioned plans go awry.
Let’s go check things out.
Blech. See that small strip of red tape near the top of the picture? The general contractor must be stuck in the old paradigm: put the cable drops in the ceiling. (These cable drops are the end points of the wired network that plug into the wireless access points.) And in this case, what a difficult location: above metal lockers, with two brick walls between the proposed location of the wireless access point and the actual classroom.
Hopefully the cable drop locations will be better as we walk through the remainder of the building.
Nope. Here’s my engineer staring at the ceiling where they’ve placed every single wireless cable drop within the building. This is typical of what was previously installed or even what is currently being installed in new school buildings. Not only are all of the cable drop locations in the ceiling, but the vast majority are in hallways instead of classrooms. With the old thinking, vendors would try to “bleed” the wireless coverage from that ceiling location in the hallway downward into the surrounding classrooms.
For the times they are a-changin’
What can an Extreme Networks customer do differently? Put the wireless coverage where it’s needed: in the classrooms at desk height where the wireless devices are actually being used. With the Altitude® 4511 snap-on wallplate access point from Extreme Networks, the better location options quickly multiply. For example, the network puck on the right could be replaced by a high performance AP with nothing more than a screwdriver.
Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall
The outdated approach is to route wireless traffic back to a centralized controller, but with 802.11n wireless solutions now prevalent, it isn’t scaling and is bottlenecking the network. (802.11n is the latest wireless protocol or “speed” commonly deployed.) Think about all those students on wireless tablets, smartphones, and laptops: lots of new traffic! Extreme Networks offers a converged data plane within the wired and wireless networks to minimize this issue. With our solution that wireless device does not have to go back to a centralized controller, it can “talk” directly to the server, storage server, or other devices- thus eliminating bottlenecks.
The slow one now will later be fast
The other benefit of this converged data plane is quite simple: speed of the network. Latency and traffic goes down. What about security? By utilizing the firewall features built into our wireless access points and enabling our unique identify management features to give users the secure access they need, network administrators can breathe easier.
If your time to you is worth savin’
Remember how the wireless access points snap directly into the existing wall bracket? Well they also support auto-configurations and can act as local controllers. Combined together these features save the unnecessary expense of running dedicated cables, and significantly cut down on installation time. This is something that all school districts need with their short summer windows for upgrades.
How do school districts meet the current and future needs of their students in these challenging times? They think differently. They think Extreme Networks.
For the times they are a-changin’