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Between digital lesson plans, Common Core testing, BYOD/1:1 initiatives, VoIP, interactive whiteboards, and video surveillance systems, networking is now integral to daily life in primary schools. Improving student outcomes now depends on delivering ample network support for both digital learning and administrative requirements. But despite increased E-rate support, the primary education community commonly struggles with limited budgets and minimal on-site IT expertise. They need network solutions that are easy to deploy and manage, can be cost-effectively implemented in stages as budgets allow, and are absolutely secure.

Beyond these basic requirements, each location throughout the district has additional requirements for its network infrastructure components. Brocade addresses each of these areas with targeted solutions.

The standardization on Brocade's ICX series has made our network more reliable and allowed us to focus on service delivery. Through configuration management we've made deploying and replacing equipment much easier and less disruptive for our users.

Cory Gearhart, Executive Director Information Tech., Grand Island Public Schools

The Connected Classroom

Classrooms’ broad set of requirements include ensuring that the network is a benefit and not a burden. High priorities for classroom switches include:

  • Quiet operation—Teachers don’t want to compete with fan noise
  • Low cost—The sheer number of devices deployed in classrooms can overrun a school budget if the network is too expensive
  • Support for Power over Ethernet (PoE/PoE+)—Running new electric circuits for switches is an unnecessary financial burden because power to the switches can be delivered via an upstream Ethernet port
  • Remotely manageable—Dispatching tech support to classrooms to fix issues is too costly

The Brocade ICX 7150-C12 Switch is an ideal solution for classroom connectivity. The unit is fanless and compact, so it is extremely quiet and can be inconspicuously placed on a shelf. PoE and PoE+ uplink ports eliminate the need to place the switch near a power outlet, and allow it to power devices like wireless access points, video surveillance cameras, and VoIP phones. To reduce IT staff burden, the ICX supports zero-touch deployment installation, and it is scalable and remotely manageable, assuring long-term, cost-effective operation.

diagram-possibilities-connected-classroom

Common areas

While classrooms tend to be dominated by wireless devices, common areas such as computer labs and testing rooms are characterized by a higher density of fixed workstations. As a result, they require a higher-density switch. But they need to gain that density without sacrificing the scalable, secure, cost-effective operation and ease of management of classroom switches.

For these areas, there’s the Brocade ICX 7250-48P Switch. It has enough capacity to support a large number of devices, and high throughput uplinks that facilitate high performance for bandwidth-intensive applications.

To support uninterrupted testing, the Brocade ICX 7250 Switch has an optional external redundant power supply that can power up to three additional switches and assorted devices. The Brocade ICX 7250 family also facilitates a high-quality testing experience by giving testing applications a higher priority, speeding response time.

Wiring closet

Most schools have one switch on each floor that aggregates traffic from (and potentially powers) all the switches on that floor. This switch might also collect information from devices like badge readers and video surveillance cameras. Because of its centralized role, the aggregation switch has higher availability and scalability requirements than classroom and common area switches.

The Brocade ICX 7450-24P Switch meets the availability requirements of an aggregation switch with redundant internal power supplies and fan trays that can be swapped out without downtime. It scales easily from a 1 Gbps backbone to a 40 Gbps backbone, and delivers up to 95W per port through a standard Ethernet cable to simplify the wiring of next-generation devices.

The Brocade ICX 7450 is covered by the Brocade Assurance Limited Lifetime Warranty, which provides hardware replacement and software upgrades for the life of the equipment. This warranty helps K-12 school districts achieve greater return on their E-rate basic maintenance and operating expense costs.

Site core and district office connection

The core of a school site network is the aggregation point for all the floor aggregation switches. It provides connectivity to the school district Wide Area Network (WAN), and as a result requires extremely high performance and availability.

Core switch requirements are well-served by the Brocade ICX 7750 Switch, which supports the ConnectED initiative goal of 1000 Mbps of Internet bandwidth per 1000 students. It features redundant links, hot-swappable components, and a single point of management for every member of the switch stack. This highly reliable and easily manageable switch significantly reduces maintenance time and costs, while supporting speedy application deployment. It’s also covered by the Brocade Assurance Limited Lifetime Warranty, which provides a level of hardware replacement and software upgrades that is unprecedented for a core switch.

District data center

The district office is typically where the central IT department resides and performs district-wide network management and administration. The connections from all the school sites aggregate here and connect with the Internet service provider (ISP). This location requires enterprise-level core routing capabilities.

We recommend a pair of Brocade MLXe-4 Core Routers for district offices. These scalable, flexible, high-density routers offer an advanced feature set and can easily meet growing and changing needs.

We recently upgraded our network with ICX Switches so that our network will be able to support the requirements for Common Core curriculum and testing that is delivered via interactive and video-based applications and tools. They have also allowed us to extend our learning initiatives that are being implemented, such as classroom sets of Chromebooks.

Irma Andress, Cheif Techology Officer, Avoyelles Parish School Board

Meeting expanding network needs

With the implementation of Common Core requirements and growing opportunities for digital learning, it’s clear that the network requirements of K-12 schools will continue to increase. Brocade understands these requirements. And we believe that our flexible, scalable, high-performing, and highly reliable infrastructure solutions will allow K-12 school districts to build network foundations that properly and practically support their evolving network needs.

FEATURES OF THE PRIMARY EDUCATION NETWORK
When School Districts have a funding window to implement network infrastructure upgrades, they need to look toward the future digital learning needs of the district while being cognizant of the constraints of limited budgets and staffing to maintain the network.

Easy to Manage
Easy to Deploy
Cost Effective
Reduced Budgets for Support and Maintenance

Scalability to meet future application requirements
High Availability for Online Testing
Support for Wireless Device Proliferation
Software Defined Network Ready

PRODUCT FOCUS

Brocade products turn Possibilities into realities. Through industry transition and technology evolution. For large and small businesses, service providers, and the public sector. Our proven data and storage network fabrics, state-of-the-art virtual devices, management tools, and open approach are ready to support your success.