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What Does Your District Look Like at Capacity?

With cloud services, 1:1 programs, BYOD and ever-increasing bandwidth & storage, the technology landscape is dynamically changing for education. As school technology administrators, we're asking questions we've never asked before, including:

  • how big can it get? 
  • how much bandwidth will we need? 
  • how many institutionally-owned vs privately-owned devices will we consider?
  • how will we log retention?
  • what will be a sufficient budget? 
  • how will the cost burden fall between institution & student? 

These are all questions that every school district in the US are facing. The federal recommended amount of bandwidth is way too high--even ridiculous. At 1 MBPS suggested per enrolled student, how much bandwidth does that require for you? The device amounts are already massive and districts are 2:1 without knowing it (BYOD, Unique IPs, etc.).

Questions to Consider

We discuss these challenges with our clients on a daily basis and it’s quite a thought provoking exercise. In order to truly be prepared, ask yourself and your team the following:

  • do you have the right sized firewall?
  • do you have the tools to limit bandwidth and enforce unique IP limits?
  • do you have the backbone to handle site to site bandwidth demands?
  • how will you budget for your capacity?

Keys for Your District

To answer these questions, you can execute on a 3-step action plan: 

1) Measure your bandwidth demand against the amount of unique IPs or devices traversing your network during peak hours (usually 8:30 -11 am). Then calculate a 3:1 device to user count and multiply against bandwidth demand at the same ratio. Some networks may add 10% to that since video and other content is increasing in density. 

2) Hold a vision session with key stakeholders to look at the growth potential of your district on student counts.

3) Put pressure on your technology vendors to provide price quotes that align with your district at capacity;ask them to provide future-proof quotes. Vendors don't often want to provide this information, but you can get it by requesting multi-year agreements and being direct with them. Letting a vendor know that you have a choice in who to buy from will often get them to provide you offers in your favor.

As they say, failing to plan is the same as planning to fail. School Admins already have enough on their plate--looking ahead at the future will minimize technical and budgetary surprises.

Good Luck!

Topics: US schools, capacity planning, school administrator, system administrator

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