The Herricks School District, also known as Union Free School District #9, faced technology challenges that were solved by Ruckus Wireless Network as it strives to provide a comprehensive education to its 4,000 students across eight communities. Despite tight budgets, the district is determined to maintain a top-tier curriculum. However, their IT group encountered issues over the past eight years, working with two wireless vendors, one of which went out of business. The existing wireless network started faltering as more courses and users moved online, prompting the need for a solution that could support the district’s expanding digital learning program.
Network Struggles and Determination
The IT team at Herricks School District has been at the forefront of technology adoption, but being early adopters comes with risks. The frustration began when the chosen wireless vendors faced challenges – the first going out of business, and the second experiencing performance problems as online courses and users increased. This resulted in a Wi-Fi network that reached its capacity, leading to dropped connections and slow downloads. Students and faculty voiced dissatisfaction, with teachers losing valuable classroom time due to network crashes. The strain on the online curriculum was evident, threatening the confidence in its effectiveness.
The Ruckus Wireless Network
Enter the CommScope Ruckus wireless and switching network, providing edge-to-edge high-capacity coverage. The network supports an expanding digital learning program with automated student and device onboarding, along with the ability to set up secure guest networks on the fly. This solution has empowered the district to move forward confidently with its 1:1 initiative, expanding online curriculum offerings and implementing BYOD policies. Crucially, the Ruckus Wireless Network ensures capacity and scalability, future-proofing the system beyond initial expectations, all within budget constraints.
Overcoming Challenges During Implementation
Despite the determination to upgrade the network, the district faced challenges during the process. Over the past three years, attempts to secure funding through a state-sponsored program proved unsuccessful. Fortunately, the board of education stepped in, securing the necessary funds. Network Outsource, an IT services company, presented a compelling proposal based on RUCKUS Wi-Fi 6 technology. The proposal exceeded expectations, providing capacity, speed, scalability, redundancy, high-density coverage, and automated onboarding, all within budget.
Unexpectedly, the COVID-19 pandemic further complicated the upgrade process. With New York schools shut down, the installation of a new fibre-optic backbone was delayed, pushing back the deployment of access points and switches. To minimize disruption, the IT team and Network Outsource decided to bring each building online one at a time. Despite the setbacks, the network upgrade proved successful, with commendation from the board for the team’s dedication and achievements.
Efficient Cloud Management via Ruckus Wireless Network
The RUCKUS network is managed by Network Outsource through the RUCKUS Cloud, a network management-as-a-service platform. This cloud-based management solution, enabled by artificial intelligence, provides monitoring and management capabilities surpassing other platforms. The RUCKUS Cloud’s user-friendly interface offers a comprehensive view of sites, access points, users, and devices, along with integrated analytics for efficient network optimization. This cloud-based approach allows the IT team to focus on instructional technology, knowing that day-to-day network management is in capable hands.
Strengthened Infrastructure and Enhanced Capabilities
The upgraded network has resolved previous issues, eliminating daily complaints about buffering problems and dropped connections. Outdoor coverage, once lacking, now extends edge-to-edge, even reaching areas like the high school gym and the football field. The RUCKUS ICX switches provide 20 GB between wiring closets and 40 GB between buildings, introducing redundancy where the previous network had none. As the district gears up for the 1:1 initiative, distributing over 1,000 Chromebooks, the robust infrastructure promises a seamless end-user experience.
Improved Security and Additional Features
The RUCKUS Cloudpath Enrolment System enhances security by authenticating users and devices accessing the network. This is a significant advancement from the previous portal-based network, which had minimal security measures. The network also supports Infinite Campus, a popular student information system, offering tools for both parents and faculty. Cloudpath not only secures the student network but also streamlines onboarding for both students and faculty, reducing the anticipated help desk calls.
Future-Ready and Cost-Efficient
With a high-capacity, redundant network foundation, the district is poised for future initiatives. The network supports not only digital learning but also strengthens physical security with connected door locks and security cameras. Looking ahead, the IT group envisions the network supporting smart building systems as the school’s HVAC system reaches the end of its life. This forward-looking approach ensures not only a safer and more efficient physical infrastructure but also lowers operational and energy costs.
In conclusion, the Herricks School District has successfully overcome network challenges with the adoption of the RUCKUS solution. The efficient implementation, cloud-based management, enhanced security, and future-ready capabilities position the district for continued progress and lower operational costs. The peace of mind attained reflects the success of the upgrade, supporting the district’s commitment to delivering a top-notch education in the ever-evolving landscape of digital learning.