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The Scots College swaps ageing network for faster infrastructure

Sydney boys' school, The Scots College, invested AU$600,000 to replace its four-year-old network infrastructure with the help of Ricoh IT Services.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

The Scots College boys' school in Sydney is now able transfer, stream, and download large files without congesting and slowing down its network, after recently swapping out its ageing infrastructure.

The school invested AU$600,000 to replace its four-year-old infrastructure that was struggling to handle online and offline video file sizes of up to 3GB, and live streaming of sporting events and assemblies. The old network also slowed when its servers between its active-passive server rooms were replicated every 15 minutes where it reached increments of up to 30GB, and when the school deployed software packages during school hours to staff and student computers that reached file sizes of over 100GB.

The college chose Ricoh IT Services, a Cisco partner, to install Cisco Nexus and Catalyst series switches, wireless LAN controllers, and access points to extend the wireless coverage at the school's three campuses.

The Scots College ICT director Paul Lister said the rollout has since boosted the school's efficiency.

"We're very impressed with the new network, designed by Ricoh IT Services. It has provided reliability and speed in sending and accessing information across the three campuses, with our 1,100 students and 400 staff now enjoying speeds of up to 10Gbps — a 22 percent increase in internal data speeds," he said.

A Cisco prime network infrastructure was also implemented within the new network to provide a one-stop management platform for all wired and wireless clients.

According to Lister, the prime network enables the school's ICT department — made up of nine full-time staff — to manage and monitor all network devices and connect clients right through to the application level using Cisco's application visibility control technology.

"We now have increased and improved visibility of network issues," he said.

"Though it's still early days, we're learning about the software and how to extract the most value out of it. This will place us well to provide ongoing improvement of wireless access points across the campuses to students, as education becomes increasingly reliant on technology."

Additional fibre links were used where possible to collapse the distribution layer and remove single points of failure, Lister said.

"It was imperative that we saw an improvement in the redundancy in our core network and the new network design has delivered on that," he said.

"Teachers are now enjoying the network speeds they need to make teaching with technology enjoyable for themselves and the students, with no reported issues with the wireless or downloading performance."

The college's IT security has also been improved due to the VLAN setup across the college network in comparison to when it it was previously a relatively open internal network. Lister said Ricoh implemented a system to segment the traffic by using multiple logical VLANs for the improvement of security and data traffic.

The work was carried over the Christmas 2013/2014 six week break to ensure minimal disruption to staff and students, which Lister noted was the main challenge, and that it would have been ideal if there was more time to complete the project.

"We implemented this during the Christmas holiday period. So we had to find resources to work during this time alongside Ricoh staff," he said.

"Also we wanted to finish the project and test our systems before term 1, 2014. We worked closely with Ricoh engineers and they always helped us to make slight changes to the project plan according to our needs."

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