Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bits and Bytes: Looking Toward Next Year

With the second semester in full-tilt, we are already looking at backend Barrington 220 network and system revamps for the next school year. Wow, this is going to be fun!

A minimum of 151 new wireless access points are needed for our elementary school One to World program. Scott Moore and his trusty team of two college students will be up and down many a ladder this summer, installing this equipment. We currently have 457 wireless access points throughout the district and 138 of these are due for replacement, they are EOL or "End of Life." More work for Scott and his team! With so many wireless access points deployed at Barrington 220, the current wireless access point controllers are no longer capable of full redundancy—if one controller fails, they all fail and wireless goes down. This would make a lot of unhappy campers here. Do we bite the bullet and upgrade the controllers (offering 20 Gbps connectivity to our all-powerful data center Nexus core switch)? Now this is an upgrade that is making some sense to me.

Have I bored you with this update yet?  If not, let me keep going…

Another one of my whiteboard sketches. Would someone help me figure this out?!!

Bandwidth to the Internet needs to double next year! At 2 Gbps (2 billion bits per second) speeds, this calls for new firewalls that can support 10 Gbps connection modules. Why do we need 10 Gbps firewalls when we are looking at 2 Gbps bandwidth? Connections! Port connections come in 10 Mbps (10 million bits per second—old school), 100 Mbps (newer old school), 1 Gbps, and 10 Gbps speeds. To get a 2 Gbps connection to the Internet, we have to overcome the issue of our current firewalls having only 1 Gbps ports.  There is a way we can make this happen, but it is what we would call “rigged” and not a best-case solution.

Here is the issue: we are approaching "cutting edge" with what we are trying to do with network technology on our Barrington 220 network.  Oh, to be a corporate IT guy who plans only for static wireless in cubicles and some dynamic wireless changes in a few conference rooms. We have dynamic movement of wireless devices within our campus that is unheard of in the corporate environment. Our bandwidth needs are going through the roof! Put this all together: Complex! The good news: Federal E-Rate dollars might now be used to help us defray some of the purchase costs of this equipment.

Still hanging in there with this tech talk? If so, we are now getting to the good stuff. It’s still a long way off until the start of the next school year, but we are already starting to strategize in regard to new device deployments. Our Technology Support Supervisor Mark Polzin and his team will be deploying about 700 new iPads for incoming sixth grade students at the middle schools. In addition, we are slated to deploy approximately 2,250 iPads at the elementary schools. Throw in about 750 new MacBook Air laptops for incoming high school ninth grade students. Wow!

I could ramble on some more about proposed network and device upgrades, but my head is swimming in bits and bytes. Thanks for listening and letting me share. If you look at the sketch of mine and have any low-cost, reliable security solutions with uber-connectivity, please ping me!

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