Innovation Award Winner Spotlight: Pearland School District’s Blazing-Fast Network

Congratulations to Texas’s Pearland Independent School District (ISD) for their 2014 IAUG Customer Innovation Award for Technology Innovation Best Practice!

Let’s take a look at their story:

The Pearland ISD, located just south of Houston, was thinking about updating a few computers.

Like 12,000.

Across 28 locations.

For 20,000 students and 2,500 staff members.

Easy, right? Not exactly…

They decided to adopt a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) strategy, which would accelerate Windows 7 adoption and also allow replacement of computers and other devices on an end-of-life basis.

In consultation with their Avaya account team, the District drilled into what the implications of a VDI strategy were for its network.

Greg Bartay, Director of Technology, comments, “The particular combination of Avaya products that we chose to upgrade our network is the ideal solution to handle our needs for bandwidth, flexibility, scalability, ease of management, and network security. Most importantly, we have been comfortable historically with Avaya solutions, with the company, and with its people. We feel that everything about Avaya is very solid.”

Pearland ISD envisioned a network environment that could deliver ample bandwidth capacity for VDI and, at the same time, safely address bring-your-own-device (BYOD) demands from students and staff.

They also wanted reliable, state-of-the-art IP Multicast capabilities for delivery of IP-based television (IPTV) and other streaming applications that teachers and administrators wanted to incorporate into Pearland ISD curriculums.

Bartay says they wanted to have an open network available to the students, with un-throttled speed.

The Avaya Fabric Connect networking portfolio filled the bill with the simplicity needed by an educational institution that needs IT to be a tool for delivery, not the core focus.

Bartay says, “We are running dual 10 Gigabit links out to the Campuses, and there’s absolutely no degradation in our performance. In fact, we’re seeing an amazing amount of throughput, and the network is running very fast – so fast, in fact, that we receive calls from users who have noticed the increase in network speed.”

“From an operational perspective,” he adds, “this is a very elegant solution for managing a network of 24 Campuses and four satellite facilities, serving over 20,000 students and approximately 2500 staff members. It meets the critical goal of helping us manage and streamline what we do to meet the needs of all our stakeholders.”

To optimize the explosion of mobility and BYOD requirements, Pearland ISD deployed the Avaya Identity Engines Ignition Server in High Availability, along with the Avaya Identity Engines Ignition Guest Manager and Access Portal.

The suite helps to ensure that all users can connect seamlessly and efficiently to their applications, regardless of where they are within range of the District facilities, when they are connecting, and on what device they are connecting.

With the Avaya single architecture and a single network protocol, the district can deliver secure BYOD, seamless voice, and IPTV to their teachers and students on a flexible, extensible, virtualized network with the ability to manage and control three different network paths independently.

Identity Engines is a phenomenal tool,” Bartay says. “It enables us to open the network safely for mobility and to create a true BYOD environment in all our schools.”

The ISD’s main IT emphasis is on educational requirements for the school district. The need for increasingly large amounts of bandwidth, flexibility, and scalability is front-and-center for the district.

“With so many mission-critical systems running on our Avaya network,” says Bartay, “we need to have certainty about its performance, durability, flexibility scalability, and security – and we also need to depend absolutely on the excellent ongoing support we receive from Avaya. We feel that all of these bases are extremely well-covered now, and we truly have a network foundation for the future.”