Avaya Technologies Provides Gigabit Connectivity for Madison County Schools

Learn how Avaya Technologies helped Madison County Schools’ IT department provide sufficient bandwidth to handle an uninterrupted flow of data from the district’s data center out to all schools.

With 20 schools throughout the district and more than 10,000 students, Richmond, Ky.-based Madison County Schools (MCS) officials want to provide its teachers and staff members a network that offers flexibility and unfailing support.

To do this, district officials looked to the IT department to provide sufficient bandwidth to handle an uninterrupted flow of data from the state to the district, from the district’s data center out to all schools, and within each of the classrooms.

The IT team’s goal is to anticipate and meet all the needs of the instructional plans for every level of education throughout the district, with a reliable, scalable infrastructure that will enable growth for many years to come. This supports the district’s mission of “providing all students quality education that inspires individual excellence.”

“We believe that the network should be completely transparent to the teachers and the students,” MCS Chief Information Officer Bob Moore says. “They shouldn’t have to worry about bandwidth.”

As part of their latest strategic network infrastructure upgrade in 2013, the IT department chose to deploy Avaya Ethernet routing switches (ERS) 5500 Series and Avaya ERS 8800 Series. They also installed the Avaya identity engines ignition server and Avaya identity engines ignition guest manager with their Avaya Wireless LAN 8100 Series to support the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend.

Expanding Bandwidth

MCS could have supported gigabit bandwidth between the schools without upgrading any of their switches. However, the IT decision-makers felt that if there were bandwidth limitations inside a building, it would restrict what teachers were able to do in the classrooms. To maximize the performance of end-user devices, they decided that gigabit bandwidth within the schools was a necessity.
“Rather than worrying about bottlenecks, it will be better for the district, in the long run, to open up the bandwidth as much as we can,” Moore says.

Over the past few years, the IT department noticed a transition in end-user devices from the traditional PC and wired connections to mobile and other wireless devices. In the latest network upgrade, a solution was needed to optimize network service for the traditional wired devices, the mobile/wireless devices provided by the county, and the shift to students using their own devices in the classroom.

The Avaya ERS 5500 Series are high-performance, highly efficient, stackable switches with comprehensive Layer 3 routing, advanced security, and unified communications features. As a flexible, multi-service platform, ERS 5500 Series switches are suitable for wiring closet, data center aggregation, and network core applications.

Avaya ERS 8800 Series provide dependability and versatility, with rock-solid network reliability and always-on application access, supporting device and network virtualization, IP-VPNs, and multi-tenancy architectures, according to the company. They optimize wireless LANs and BYOD environments, off-loading data flows from mobile devices and directly integrating them into the high-performance LAN.

“With the new series of switches, we feel confident that we will continue to have the assurance that the network is always there, and that it remains stable and reliable even as we accommodate expanding and changing patterns of usage,” Moore says. “Our advanced technologies from Avaya enable us to deliver the network in a way that is so solid, it becomes a part of the infrastructure, like desks, chairs, and other physical equipment. Teachers and students can focus on the instruction without being concerned about what the technology will or won’t allow them to do.”

Transitioning to Mobile and Wireless Devices

The school district maintains three wireless networks: one for mobile/wireless devices owned by the county; a Mac network; and a guest network. The guest network has grown in importance as more students use their own devices in the classroom, and as teachers are eager to leverage students’ affinity with their personal cell phones, iPads, and laptops.

“The students are already involved with technology, and we don’t have to try to convince them to use it,” Moore says. “So a lot of what’s driving our wireless network technology is the goal of providing teachers the kind of network access that will enable them to do the things with technology in their classroom that they want to do in order to benefit our students.”

Avaya Wireless LAN 8100 supports the BYOD trend by providing a highly scalable, real-time optimized and secure wireless networking solution, incorporating the latest 802.11n wireless standard. It provides industry-leading voice and video over scalable Wi-Fi, with outstanding performance and coverage.

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