Handsworth Wood Girls Academy

Handsworth Wood Girls’ Academy was experiencing problems with their IT infrastructure and connectivity. The internet connection would regularly crash, and when teachers wanted students to log onto the network, it would take up to 15 minutes to complete. Using the internet for any form of teaching was unfeasible. Accessing internal email or documents, such as lesson plans and timetables, was a continual issue. The unreliability of the broadband connection and difficulties with the IT infrastructure were hindering the effective running of the school. This is where Serveline was able to help.

Serveline listened to the difficulties that the Academy was experiencing and provided a day of onsite IT assessment to establish precisely where the problems lay. The school’s network was found to have a number of problems; the existing equipment was not fit to do the job, the network needed improving to resolve speed issues, the disaster recovery platform needed upgrading, and a remote device management service needed to be introduced. Serveline also noted that the Academy was paying for some IT services that it did not need.

The diagnostic findings were presented to the Academy in a jargon-free report, with proposed solutions, alongside a transparent pricing quote. The Academy chose to appoint Serveline and took a phased approach to the overhaul of their network, with Serveline technicians working alongside and training their own internal IT staff.

Phase One – Installation of new hardware and cabling

The first step was to address the physical network in the school. Serveline installed new structured cabling and fibre-optic technology which gave the Academy improved performance and a robust networking backbone on which to build the school’s IT infrastructure. The Academy’s IT capabilities were now able to grow from a solid foundation.

Phase Two – Optimising the Local Area Network (LAN)

The next stage was to ensure the network traffic travelling around the school was controlled in such a manner that critical services were given high priority on the LAN. Serveline installed switches to control and segment the school’s network traffic. The organised usage improved network response times, reduced unnecessary traffic and prioritised certain applications to deliver key services in a vastly improved time. The real benefit of this was that now log-on times and speed of accessing network resources was greatly reduced – allowing students to access learning materials much quicker, and allowing teachers to have more confidence in the systems that they are using on a daily basis. This has made a real difference in the classroom.

Phase Three – Optimising and Securing the Internet Gateway

The next phase was to provide a high speed internet service (leased line) and improve the network security at the school. The aim was to give greater control to the school’s IT staff, and ensure that access of the network was optimised for key services whilst the highest level of protection was in place from unauthorised and malicious attempts to compromise the network. This work involved the provision of a fibre Ethernet service and installation and configuration of an enterprise-grade firewall to provide network edge protection and also remote access to authorised staff, students and teachers.

Phase Four – Virtualisation

Phase four involved ‘virtualisation’, a process of re-structuring the school’s server platform. This project involved re-deploying the existing school’s server hardware using virtualisation technology and the introduction of a resilient storage solution to improve performance, reduce the total cost of ownership and provide system resilience to hardware failure. Reducing the total number of physical servers also had benefits for the school such as reducing the Carbon Footprint, and saving money on energy use and support costs.

Final Phase – Looking ahead

The final phase of the project was to ensure the on-going management of the system was left back in the hands of the IT staff, with the support of Serveline’s remote response helpline service where needed. The IT staff at the school are fully trained by Serveline to use the new equipment and are confident in dealing with problems as they arise. To support this, Serveline provide a two tier response service; level one issues are handled by the school’s IT team and level two, more complex or equipment problems, are remotely managed by the technicians and Serveline.

The Academy’s IT staff are now able to effectively manage the new network, correct problems and provide a smooth and streamlined service to staff and pupils. The new improved infrastructure now provides a fully resilient solution, with the capability to identify and isolate faults, and triggering a report alert for the problem to be fixed.

Handsworth Wood Girls’ Academy now have an IT infrastructure which aids teaching and the management of the school, with the capability to grow as future technology develops.

We have a great relationship with Serveline because their consultancy and solutions are always relevant, targeted to our needs and delivered clearly. They have provided us with the ability to manage our own network more effectively, and, as trusted partners, provide an extension of own internal IT team.
Zia Hakeem
Manager, Handsworth Wood Girls Academy