by George Nott

Edtech inspired Mazenod College cures network woes

May 31, 2016
Collaboration SoftwareData CenterData Mining

Technology has become integral to the student experience at Mazenod College in Western Australia. Pupils access class assignments and work materials from their laptops and tablets, while teachers use interactive data projectors and multimedia content to boost engagement.

Last year, the secondary college for boys found that its existing network infrastructure could no longer cope with demand. The legacy wired and wireless campus network was straining – it was taking 15 minutes for students to receive their Microsoft OneNote class updates from teachers.

With ambitions to capture and store lesson footage in high definition for later playback, college ICT director Hugo van Niekerk sought a solution.

“Fast wired and wireless network access is an absolute must for us to deliver high-quality computing experience for every department, as well as for all students, teachers, and parents,” he said. “We also required a smart, agile network that could support changes on the fly, such as a last-minute classroom shift, with the technology automatically ‘moving’ with the teacher.”

The college has rolled out a new infrastructure with Brocade under a five year maintenance contract.

Brocade network switches have been deployed throughout the college to provide one Gigabit Ethernet ports at each of the new Fortinet wireless access points. These are connected through dual one GbE ports combined into a two Gbps link aggregation group. The campus’ network core is provided by Brocade datacentre switches and the company’s VCS fabric technology, giving 10 GbE optical links to the school’s servers and the campus access switches.

The college is also gaining visibility into its network with Brocade’s Network Advisor, which automates best practices and aids troubleshooting.

“It has enabled us to establish an advanced campus ‘nervous system’ that has already delivered tremendous improvements and created the foundation for us to provide some exciting innovations,” said van Niekerk

Students now receive their class updates in around 20 seconds. The college is testing its on-demand lesson recording resource and has been able to implement its first disaster recovery solution, housing a 100 terabyte storage array in a concrete bunker.

“We supported Mazenod College through a very successful proof-of-concept test prior to the deployment of our solution, in time for the start of the school year,” said Adam Judd, vice-president for Asia Pacific Japan at Brocade. “Schools want networks that simply work and meet their needs without a lot of administrative effort. The new Mazenod campus network is a great example of just how simple this can be. With built-in intelligence to automate what were previously manual tasks, teachers can now save time and put more focus on their students.”