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St Aidans CE High School


St Aidans CE High School

St Aidans CE High School

Contract Value: c.£90,000
Location: Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Playfords have been working with St Aidan’s C of E High School for over ten years, from initially establishing their network through a network refresh to deploying their very first 3Com managed wireless network in 2006.

At the beginning of 2014, St Aidan’s High School tasked Playfords with upgrading the schools existing 3Com Wireless Network. This hardware was now ‘end-of-life’ and no longer supported by the manufacturer (who had since been acquired by HP), and the school were looking to trial an iPad deployment with a view to eventually moving to a 1:1 tablet deployment across the school. Due to our close working relationship with the school, we worked with them through various consultative meetings on site to determine the requirements for delivering these goals. It was agreed that the most effective option would be to deploy a new site wide 802.11ac wireless solution to replace the schools existing network. After further discussions & testing, we decided that the best vendor to support this would be Fortinet. The school had already been working with Playfords & Fortinet to provide wireless connectivity to certain areas of the school campus, and their 802.11ac hardware proved to be the most compelling option for the school.

The new Fortinet wireless solution installed at the school consists of 76no Fortinet AP832e wireless access points located throughout the campus, with two Fortinet MC4200 wireless controllers at the network core for management. The school chose the MC4200 model as it offers an upgrade path to 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity in the future, as this particular model has an empty module slot ready to provide this high speed connectivity at a later date. The second wireless controller is set up as an ‘N+1’ redundant controller to enable immediate failover of the wireless network in the event of a main controller failure.

The complete project was completed within 2 weeks including all engineering and configuration works on site. The network is configured to include a BYOD/Guest network, which is used by the school to allow staff and students to connect non-school owned devices to the wireless network while retaining secure filtered internet access for these ‘untrusted’ devices by integrating with their existing Smoothwall web filter.

Following the completion of the upgrade project, the school is currently seeing between 600-800 devices concurrently connected to the network throughout the day with Staff and Students being able to seamlessly roam around the school buildings without any loss to connection or performance. The Fortinet System Director application (installed on the MC4200 controller) has also identified a growing number of 802.11ac devices beginning to connect to the guest network and achieving fast connection speeds to the network.

Throughout our working relationship with St Aidan’s High School Playfords have supported the school throughout offering technical support and assistance as required, either by way of site visits or telephone / remote support. Since the completion of the new wireless installation, Playfords have continued to support the school’s network team with changes and/or ‘tweaks’ to the network to fine tune the solution to continually meet the schools requirements.

During the initial discussions around the wireless project, we also identified a need to upgrade the school’s network switch infrastructure in order to continue to support the growing number of services running over both the wired & wireless networks. Whilst completing the wireless network upgrade, we also began working with the school on a network upgrade to provide a 10 Gigabit Ethernet backbone in the future. The initial phase of this was to replace the existing 3Com Core switch which was initially installed by Playfords with a new HP 5400zl chassis switch which is capable of supporting 10Gbps connectivity. In addition, new ‘top of rack’ HP2920 edge switches were installed which are capable of supporting 10Gbps connections in the future. The next phase of the upgrade will be to gradually replace some of the schools older fibre cabling with more modern OM3 fibre optic cable capable of supporting the 10 Gigabit Ethernet standard.

In addition to networking, Playfords also provide other services to the school including audio visual installations, network infrastructure cabling and the installation of a 50Kwp solar photovoltaic solution.

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