Case Study: Education

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Requirements:

  • Teachers and students should have different policies
  • Students should have restricted internet usage
  • High availability

Solution:

  • VLAN implementation for segregating user groups
  • Web-filtering and Application control to restrict content available to students
  • Wireless access points with overlapping coverage areas
  • Wireless APs form a mesh to bridge connections in the event of cable failure
  • Cloud based network management for cost efficient third-party network support
 

When Megatron Technology took an IT-support role for one of our education customers, we identified numerous challenges that were not present in office or retail networks. For example, there was no dedicated IT support team on-site, having the campus spread out over a large geographical area, and multiple age-groups of students ranging from primary to secondary.

Original Challenges

  • The network had equipment which were installed over 10 years ago, making it difficult to make changes across the network, as each piece of equipment had to be configured using command-line over secure-shell, or console connection.
  • The network's equipment was not application-layer aware, and it was impossible to manage bandwidth and network traffic. 
  • There was only one wireless SSID being broadcast, and a revamp of the data link design to accommodate more SSIDs would require multiple maintenance windows. All devices were therefore on the same network, whether it was a guest, student, or teacher.
  • Without an on-site, dedicated IT team, having a technician deployed to the site would require at least an hour or two, which meant troubleshooting simple issues could sometimes take half a day.

Megatron Technology's Solution

  • Megatron Technology deployed a next-generation firewall (ngfw) which had layer 7 visibility, allowing the monitoring of bandwidth and application usage. 
  • Cisco Meraki cloud-managed hardware was deployed, making it easy to clone configuration and roll out changes across all hardware. 
  • A VLAN implementation was put in place, allowing the segregation of wireless users into different groups, each having its own set of policies. For example, student laptops had access to only a defined group of web-pages.
  • With such a wide geographical area, Megatron Technology implemented the wireless in such a way that if any physical cable was faulty, wireless access points would form a mesh to bridge the connection.

The Results

  • The school is now able to manage different levels of network access for students and teachers in different grade levels. For example, teachers have unrestricted access to the internet, but students are only able to view a defined group of websites.
  • With application visibility, the school is able to see which applications use the most bandwidth  to implement bandwidth throttling measures in order to optimize bandwidth allocation and great user experience for students and staff alike. 
  • The school is also now able to roll out a guest SSID quickly, and easily choose which access points to broadcast the SSID. For example, if there is a public event at the school hall, an event specific SSID can be rolled out in a matter of minutes, and broadcast only on the access point in the hall with a few button clicks.
  • With such a large geographical area, cable damage is often encountered due to water damage or damage from animals. With Cisco Meraki, the school is now able to run cable tests remotely, identifying which cables need to be replaced within minutes.
  • New features are automatically downloaded and applied to all of the access points and switches at no extra cost, providing the school with future-proof solution.
  • Both teachers and students increasingly expect reliable WiFi access everywhere. WiFi is not regarded as a 'good to have' feature anymore, but is the underlying infrastructure of a large number of educational activities. Using Megatron Technology's solution, the school is providing a modern, high-quality education experience that will scale as it grows.