Exinda helps district bring Web 2.0 technology into the classroom

StudentsWithComputerBandwidth-heavy applications can impact the performance of other academic and educational network traffic. Exinda solved this problem for Andover Public Schools in Essex County, Mass., by allowing Web 2.0 and more traditional academic and education traffic to co-exist on the school network without any degradation in service.

Web 2.0 technology aims to enhance creativity, information sharing and, most notably, collaboration among users. The educators at Andover Public Schools chose to seize the power of Web 2.0 technology to enrich their learning environment.

Media rich and bandwidth hungry, the IT Department for Andover Public Schools had to facilitate the use of Web 2.0 technology in the classroom without degrading the performance of other academic and administrative traffic on the network.

Like most public school districts, Andover Public Schools leverage a SaaS model for many of their academic and administrative technology needs. As subscribers to the E-SpED Series of secure web-based applications, Andover Public Schools leverage applications in individualized special education and general education programs.

These applications are critical to the administrative and educational success of the schools. X2 Aspen Sims Applications are also being leveraged by these schools. These are critical for the district, providing attendance tracking, report card generation, and other critical functions.

Because educators, administrators, parents, and students leverage these applications, their performance and speed is crucial. Adding to these high-demand applications, innovative Web 2.0 network traffic like streaming video and radio had Andover Public Schools see its network performance slow to a crawl. Andover Public Schools is comprised of 11 K-12 public schools and the network supports 7,000 users who access the network from 2,300 computers.

“There was an immediate impact on the network when the teachers began streaming video,” said Ray Tode, director of information systems and educational technology for Andover Public Schools. “The performance of our critical applications like the student information system and special education suffered greatly.”

Recognizing that restoring reliable performance for critical applications was crucial, Tode and his team began looking at possible solutions. Through the course of this research it became clear that the Andover Schools required an enterprise grade solution that would scale with the district’s needs.

“We wanted a solution that specialized in bandwidth management, visibility, control, and is scalable. We looked at a couple options but quickly found that Exinda solved our problem, was very easy to manage and would grow with us. The value was there and we went with it,” said Tode.

CELT, an Exinda reseller specializing in IT strategies and systems for K-12 schools and districts, was active in demonstrating the value of Exinda during the selection process.

“We saw the fit with Exinda and Andover Public Schools. IT management in public schools doesn’t have time to tinker with products. They needed to identify an enterprise solution to solve their problem quickly and for the long-term. Scalability is a critical aspect that ensures longevity in product life and value. Additionally, Exinda offers an intuitive GUI, making set-up and policy-setting very straightforward,” comments Carole Schuster, VP Business Development at CELT.

Tode installed Exinda and saw immediate improvements to network performance. Not looking to eliminate access to applications, Tode looked instead to shape and prioritize network traffic.

“The goal was to allow educators to bring new web-based technology into the classroom and leverage it as a learning tool,” he said. “But this couldn’t occur at the cost of performance for our critical applications.”

Exinda’s Layer 7 technology differentiates between types of traffic and prioritizes the application traffic that is critical to the operations of the schools. Web 2.0, including streaming audio and video, is leveraged in the classroom, but the bandwidth demands of these activities are no longer permitted to interfere with other critical application traffic on the network.

With Exinda, the educators of Andover Public Schools continue to provide exceptional and innovative education to their students by offering an open environment to access information through both onsite resources and those on the internet. Exinda provides visibility into network traffic and control through policy-setting to ensure that critical applications have enough bandwidth.

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Laura Ascione

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