A Managed Wireless Network Network

St Mary’s Catholic College

St Marys Catholic College is a successful 11-19 mixed Catholic Comprehensive College, as a large comprehensive, they are committed to developing learning experiences that meet the needs of students of all abilities and as such have made a considerable investment in ICT..

St Mary's School

Like most schools, St Mary’s Catholic College had been deploying more and more mobile devices including laptops, net books and tablets. John Worswick ICT Manager says “We were unable to increase our desktop estate and therefore the faculty was opting for mobile solutions. This posed a headache to our teachers and students as they were constantly looking for network sockets to connect their laptops into. We had tried mobile cabinets in the past but found the performance was slow when there were multiple devices logging onto the wireless access point in the cabinet. It was important for us as an ICT team to instil confidence with staff and students in Wi-Fi. We had heard about Rapid Technologies track record of delivering successful wireless in other schools and embarked on a proof of concept partnership with Rapid Technologies into two locations within our school”

Rapid listened to St Mary’s Catholic College requirements and recommended a managed wireless solution for two areas in the school which were the most intensive users of wireless. Rapid provided the school with detailed plans for deployment and a comprehensive proposal. The pilot went ahead in the Autumn of 2009. “The pilot was a great success with teachers and students commenting on the speed, performance and availability of the service.” John added, “One of our measurements of success of any pilot is the level of support we have to provide to our staff and students, which it was virtually zero, effectively a network manager’s dream.”

Within 18 months John was tasked by the senior management of the school to look at a campus wide roll out of the wireless service due to its popularity and success. John Worswick approached Rapid again to see what they would recommend for a campus wide deployment. Rapid explained that they recommended Enterasys Secure Network products, a Siemens company, for their large Wi-Fi projects. Rapid had put in considerable time and investment in working with Enterasys as the preferred vendor for Wi-Fi in schools and suggested the school consider an Enterasys comprehensive 802.11bgn solution.

John says “what was important to us was Rapid’s expertise in Wi-Fi and after taking on board what Rapid had said and meeting representatives from Enterasys we decided the solution met all our needs and provided scalability for the future.”

Rapid carried out a comprehensive campus wide survey and produced a wireless deployment plan and cost schedule for the school including diagrams detailing where additional data sockets and switches were required. Rapid also included taking into account the previous vendor’s equipment. John says “The system looked easy to administrate, the access points had a lifetime warranty and we particularly liked the fact that Rapid took into consideration our previous investments in wireless and replaced this technology so that we had one managed solution across the school.”

Rapid also suggested that the IT team go and visit another school where they had just recently completed an Enterasys Wireless Network rollout similar to the size proposed for St Mary’s Catholic College. This school had also used the same technology vendor as St Marys Catholic College. Rapid suggested it would be good to hear of their experience and see what challenges if any they met. John visited the site with his colleague Ian Penny, Ian says “John and I were particularly impressed by the fact the school had a pretty seamless change over with an improved performance and coverage. This confirmed our confidence in the Rapid / Enterasys solution.”

Rapid successfully tendered for the contract and deployed the system over the summer holidays in 2011. John says “Rapid were competitively priced and our previous experience with them reassured us that the Wi-Fi would be a successful project. The deployment, documentation and handover training we received were all to the high standard we have come to expect.”

John added “The proof of the pudding on this project was in the eating and we were very pleased that when the staff and students came back to the school in September the access to our new campus wide wireless network went smoothly. Rapid and Enterasys have delivered a solution that the school is very pleased with and would have no hesitation in recommending them to colleagues in the future.”

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