Featured case study
Beacons help school track and analyse pupils

15 March 2017

Bryanston School is set in 400 acres of Dorset countryside.

Bryanston School is set in 400 acres of Dorset countryside.

Set in 400 acres of Dorset countryside, Bryanston School has 670-plus pupils, mostly boarders at fees of £11,882 per term.

Alumni inaclude the adventurer Ben Fogle, actors Emilia and Freddie Fox, the painter Lucian Freud, and Rachel Johnson, writer and sister of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

In a 12-month project, 400 wireless access points – managed by two mobility controllers – were fitted throughout the campus, which comprises more than 30 buildings.

The technology is from Aruba (now owned by HP) and was installed by Pervasive Networks, which was bought by Capita for £17.5m in May 2015.

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Off-site backup saves school data from fire

15 March 2017

The Academy, Selsey, has 400 students and is part of The Kemnal Academies Trust.

In August last year, fire destroyed 80 per cent of the school, including the rack-mounted servers (outlined in red in the above picture) and the network.

Founded in 1963 as a comprehensive school and established as an academy in 2011, The Academy, Selsey, has 400 students and is part of The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT).

It had been using a traditional tape-based method to backup its 1TB of student data.

IT manager Daniel Sapseid says this would frequently take two days: “I would often leave the backup process to complete over the weekend and then would take the tapes home with me. Looking back, I see it wasn’t the most efficient way to store critical student data as a large part of my time was spent ensuring the backups had been completed in the first place.”

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Cannon-proof walls no barrier to Wi-Fi

15 March 2017

Portsmouth Grammar School is based in a former army barracks.

Portsmouth Grammar School is based in a former army barracks.

Founded in 1732 by the city’s mayor, Portsmouth Grammar School (PGS), has just over 1,000 pupils from nursery to sixth form and is based in a former army barracks. It has been fully co-educational since girls were admitted in 1991.

The school encourages pupils to work from their own tablets, smartphones and other devices within the classrooms. However, while its building’s 1.5 metre-thick flint-filled walls were once ideal for withstanding enemy artillery attacks, they also proved good at blocking radio signals, making Wi-Fi access across the campus a major challenge.

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Education charity saves with move to the cloud

16 October 2016

Teach First, a charity working to tackle educational inequality in England and Wales, has 11 offices and 650 staff. 

With the decision to move its London HQ from the South Bank to North Greenwich, it sought to replace the different conventional phone systems at each of its offices with a single UC platform that would support Skype for Business. And it had to integrate with Microsoft products, particularly as the charity is a dedicated user of Office 365.

Teach First discussed its needs with VIA, part of Smart Hosted Solutions, based in Nottingham, which suggested its cloud-based product, VIA Voice. The charity visited Redbridge College to see VIA Voice in use and, after a month-long trial at its Birmingham office, rolled out VIA Voice across all of its offices.

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King’s College claims a world first

26 June 2015

pic: kings college somerset house

Around the start of the year, King's College London had the idea of rebranding itself as simply King's London. But instead of dropping the word "college", the university instead dropped the whole idea of changing its name.

But while superficial name changes can be debated, what cannot be avoided is the need to stay up-to-date with the technology of the day, and – if possible – stay ahead of the game.

And in-keeping with its global profile, King's College London claims to have established the first "UK and world collaborative research data centre". The aim is "to drive research and maintain the UK as a global research powerhouse", says the university. The university worked with Infinity SDN to develop the centre.

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Birmingham City gets network fit for students

30 May 2014

Birmingham City University has completed a root and branch revamp of its IT and network infrastructure to get it fit to compete for students in the next decade.

The overhaul, conducted by systems integrator Logicalis, includes the design and deployment of two on-site data centres, wired and wireless networks for employees and students, and the rollout of Cisco Unified Communications Manager for the 4,000 staff.

The project is part of a £180m investment in new facilities to support innovation and evolving service expectations from all users. Shaun Buffery, the university’s associate director for converged infrastructure, says: “Nowadays, you’re not only competing on the level of education students will receive, but also facilities and services. This new infrastructure will adapt to innovation in student technology and teaching resources, and also enable staff to be more collaborative with one another and with the students.

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Academy watches net grow with PRTG network monitor

30 May 2014

Oxford Spires Academy (OSA) opened in 2011 to primarily serve the east of the city, and now has 800 pupils aged 7-14, and employs116 staff. A major hardware upgrade revealed the limitations of the network monitoring tool it was using. “As our infrastructure became larger and more sophisticated, it was increasingly hard to keep a handle on exactly what was going on in the network,” says James Preston, OSA’s ICT network manager. “In addition to nine brand new IT labs, we have been gradually equipping all of the classrooms with smart boards and ensuring that all the teachers have mobile access to our ICT services through a tablet or a laptop. In addition, the school was adding new multifunction printers and IP-enabled phones. OSA found that its existing network monitor didn’t have the features needed to do the job with the new systems. Preston says he’d heard about Paessler’s PRTG and decided to investigate it.

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Who’s doing what on the network?

30 January 2014

The University of West Scotland (UWS) is using data governance software from Varonis to track and monitor which of its 2,000 users across four campuses are accessing its resources and what they are doing.

UWS – which is said to be Scotland's largest modern university – has implemented DatAdvantage for Windows as part of its ICT audit. Varonis says UWS will use the software to answer the fundamental question of who had access to its shared drives with a comparative degree of detail and granularity.

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“On the road to UC nirvana” at Lancaster University

30 January 2014

Lancaster University’s previous telephony infrastructure consisted of three separate systems but had become increasingly difficult for IT to manage, and the aging hardware wasn’t providing the ‘always-on’ communication it needed to operate as a world-class institution.

Multi-institutional collaboration on research projects is becoming increasingly central to the university. This, coupled with its large base of students now working overseas, meant it needed an infrastructure that would enable users to communicate and share information more efficiently regardless of location or time zone. Another requirment was to offer more flexible working and collaboration for staff and students in the UK in order to enhance the day-to-day study environment.

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Safe and secure backups for schools

30 January 2014

Founded in 2008, EasiPC Services’ aim is to provide a flexible and cost effective ICT technician service to schools in Northamptonshire. It currently supports just under 100 schools across the county with an onsite package that includes technicians who provide ongoing maintenance.

Because of its responsibility of protecting vital data for such a large number of schools, it was essential for EasiPC to offer a secure and reliable backup solution. The firm found that the majority of its schools already had existing tape and disk backup solutions in place. However, due to the time and labour intensive nature of such systems, it also discovered that a lot of schools were failing to perform critical backup related tasks such as swapping tapes or ensuring they were taken offsite.

EasiPC director Jezz Botterill takes up the story: “The backups simply weren’t  happening because it was left to the schools to implement them – the process of placing data on removable disks and transporting them was a major barrier. This was causing us, as well as the schools, significant headaches when data went missing.”

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