A school’s technology innovation is often judged by the devices in the hands of the staff or the pupils, or usually whatever’s available in the classroom.
But we all know that there’s more to it than just devices.
So, what actually is the secret behind a school’s success?
The answer’s simple – it’s the school’s storage infrastructure.
By now, you might be asking why?
Well let’s give you the lowdown and show how configuring the right solution can transform the technology landscape of your school within weeks.
If you’re a teacher then storage infrastructure is most likely the least of your concerns.
On a day-to-day basis many people within a school environment may not realise that problems, which commonly occur with devices in the classroom, are likely to be caused by an inefficient or insufficient infrastructure that’s hidden away behind the scenes rather than the devices themselves.
But, I bet there are a few (namely you Network Managers and IT Technicians out there) who are continuously plagued with concern over the health of your school’s storage and server estate.
A typical school infrastructure is made up of three parts:
- Servers – which run the school’s applications, email exchange etc.
- Storage – that holds all the school’s data, from pupil records right through to videos
- Networking equipment – the pieces that knit the entire solution together (i.e. switches and cabling)
And you often find that these three things aren’t from the same manufacturer, or even brought at the same time. They won’t be the same age and will be supported by different companies when it come to getting them fixed.
As budgets get cut back year-on-year, many schools are running on very outdated, and in some cases obsolete infrastructures, which are being kept alive by the school’s ICT technicians and the support from each manufacturer.
So, what do you need to do?
You should start by looking for a company who can work with you to find a solution to one or two of the elements that make up your infrastructure and that can be replaced without having to completely start again.
Then again, on the other hand, starting over with a new storage infrastructure can more often than not be the most liberating, cost effective and simple way forward.
In the same way the green-screened trolley PC and tower has no place in the corner of the classroom anymore because it doesn’t fulfill the requirements of modern education, the three-part back office infrastructure is looking increasingly unlikely to be able to support a digitally forward-thinking school with big BYOD or multi-media plans for the next few years.
Infrastructure investment is arguably more essential than end-user device investment, particularly when you consider the long term benefits associated with technology in the classroom.
Reducing the size of both footprint and power consumption whilst increasing the support and security of your infrastructure can be achieved by deploying an ‘all in one’ solution that holds all three of the traditional components that were mentioned a little earlier on. You can then get to work in making it into the beating heart of your entire solution by adding software which then becomes your systems infrastructure, or virtual desktop capabilities to enable BYOD or remote access for all.
When you deploy a solution like this (for example, the Stone Integrum) you eradicate any concerns about single points of failure, because they contain two computing nodes and two power supplies to ensure availability and security.
Fit for purpose
An all in one infrastructure solution automatically tidies up decades of data you have by de-duplicating and compressing files and making them accessible at a speed of your choice, relative to frequency of use.
As an example – any current classroom projects stay on the faster SSD storage and the projects that were worked on prior to the start of the new term get moved over to the spinning disk storage. So, they are still accessible but not taking up valuable speed or space.
Everything moves faster with better storage infrastructure. Students and teachers won’t have to wait so long for software to start or files to appear. Lessons get smoother. Jobs get easier.
Data compliance and storage of sensitive information is becoming a very important part of a school’s Ofsted checklist. Old servers and inaccessible files are vulnerable to intrusion, or worse still, complete data loss.
The devices you put into the hands of your staff and students can be safeguarded from misuse by a better, more efficient and effective infrastructure. In turn this can then enable essential security features such as cloud storage which means no data will be stored on any device.
If you’re planning to introduce a BYOD or 1:1 device scheme into your school, you should start with a thorough investigation into the infrastructure you’ll need to run a successful one.
Without thought in this area, even an iPad can be useless as that old PC on a trolley!