As we’ve discussed before on this blog, the demand for schools to have a robust, secure and effective IT service is ever increasing. For one thing, an IT service that provides efficient communication networks, internally and externally. But also, more crucially, to deliver fast, effective online access that is geared above all else towards learning and driving the curriculum.
This means providing access that’s safe and secure for users. And, in an environment of increasingly ubiquitous computing, ensuring that web access is filtered towards appropriate materials across all manner of devices.But in an era of austerity, where education budgets are already stretched to breaking point, how can a school adequately afford appropriate IT services, when many can barely afford new stationery?
Focus on the Architecture
It might sound counterintuitive to say so, but overhauling and re-designing the network can deliver long-term cost-effectiveness and enable the school to have greater budgetary control year on year.
The temptation when budgets are tight are to utilise consumer standard networks, bolting on additional bandwidth to form an ad-hoc network across the school. Unfortunately, buying the cheap option may save you some immediate money but it’s almost certain to become costly and inefficient over time.
Investing in a fit-for-purpose network with a carefully planned architecture, and using an enterprise standard solution is much more likely to deliver a cost-effective solution and give you much more control of your budget. With suitably located access points and control over the amount of bandwidth required, can significantly reduce the cost attached to maintenance, servicing and downtime.
Linked to investing in a sound enterprise network is scalability.
The reality is that the school environment is more than just a computer room with a couple of rows of PCs. From class-based learning to pupils and staff bringing mobile devices onto the site, there is a need for adequate bandwidth of course.
Having a network that can seamlessly scale up to meet need without having to pay for additional equipment is a more cost-effective solution than the constant replacing, adding to or upgrading of hardware.
Understanding the needs of your site
As with all essential items on site, and your IT network is an essential part of the modern school, assessing need is a crucial part of ensuring accurate budgeting.
Understanding the volume of use, approximate number of devices and peak user times can provide you with an accurate assessment of the bandwidth you need to effectively operate. A network stretched beyond its capacity is prone to failure and such failure brings disruption and additional cost.
And, of course, if you understand what you need in line with what you already have on site (that’s appropriate) then you can avoid unnecessary expense of purchasing more than you actually need.
Filtering what can and cannot be accessed on the network is a vital part of the overall service. It keeps students safe, while ensuring that inappropriate material is not accessed. And, over and above, it keeps online access focused on education.
However, there is a cost element to inadequate filtering as well. Access to streaming channels, social media and similar platforms can quickly drain capacity and put undue (costly) strain on the network. And, with mobile devices more commonly used in the school, old-fashioned or poor filtering solutions may be unable to cope. Investing in modern web-filters that run across all devices can ensure a smoother, more efficient network.
Focused on learning and helping you to keep a tighter control on the cost of running your school’s IT network.