Case Study: Wichita Falls ISD gets updated WAN, simpler management, lower costs

Netsync designs and deploys high-speed, scalable optical network for school district

A major school district in North Texas — in fact, the largest of 38 districts in the area—with an enrollment of more than 14,000 students, had a costly, poorly supported metro-Ethernet network connecting and supplying Internet access for their 28 facilities. The Wichita Falls ISD could cite several instances of network outages on the telco-managed Ethernet metro area network that had to be resolved by customer intervention due to the poor response time from the telecommunications provider. This caused the district to issue an E-Rate RFP that Netsync was awarded.

The Right Preparation delivers a Perfect Solution

For more than 18 years, Netsync has closely partnered with Cisco, an industry leading manufacturer, innovator and thought leader for networking equipment. As a Cisco Gold Partner, Netsync has combined its technical and engineering experience with Cisco thousands of times to deliver exactly what this school district needed – an innovative, budget-friendly solution that would not only meet their current demands but prepare the school district for the future.

First, Netsync and Cisco worked with the selected dark fiber provider to insure a resilient, highly scalable optical network architecture, that with Netsync’s value-added Knowledge Transfer, would enable the customer to monitor, provision, configure and essentially manage their own network.

After conducting interviews with key school district stakeholders, Netsync conducted site surveys at each of the 28 facilities. Rack space, power and port availability, and switch connectivity were analyzed prior to crafting a comprehensive deployment and migration plan. In addition, all applications were identified that would be affected and need to be tested after the cutover. Netsync carefully documented and reviewed all their findings with the customer, including recommendations, implementation details and network designs. Netsync and customer determined all Quality and Class of Service (QoS/CoS) configurations that would be needed to support multiple classes of traffic and queue prioritization.

Netsync’s solution used Cisco’s NCS 2006 and Nexus 9236C switches at each of the four designated hub sites to support a Layer 1 transport and Layer 3 routing configuration from the school district’s Data Center. With 9.6 Tbps of bandwidth possible in the NCS 2006 and 7.2 Tbps of bandwidth possible on the Cisco Nexus 9236C switch delivers line-rate Layer 2 and 3 features for high-performance enterprise, service provider hosting, and cloud computing environments.

Netsync also used eight Cisco Catalyst 4500E Series switches to handle WAN connectivity and Internet bandwidth at 8 additional elementary schools. Cisco Catalyst 4500E Series switches are Cisco SD (Software Defined)-Access ready, and are the industry’s most widely deployed modular platform for campus access and distribution deployments. At these eight locations, Netsync deployed Uninterrupted Power Supplies (UPSs) manufactured by APC, a leader in power management and surge protection.

Received, Staged and Ready

Netsync received all Cisco equipment at its staging and logistics facility, installed necessary configurations, conducted burn-in testing, and applied asset tags to each part to be able to provide a detailed inventory to the school district.

After the Cisco NCS 2006 chassis and cards were received and deployed, Netsyncs’ dedicated Senior Optical Engineers uploaded the current version of software and configured the nodes so the backbone network connectivity was established. Then end-to-end testing was performed and the data recorded to ensure that both 10 Gbps WAN Ethernet circuits to each location were ready for service.

After receipt at each of the school district’s locations, Netsync’s highly experienced field technicians first ensured all data was backed up and verified. They performed all pre-migration configurations and implementations to include upgrades of all switches to the latest release of Cisco NX-OS. They set up the management interfaces on a VLAN and all required switch configurations. They ensured the new core routing to the 28 locations was delivering 10 Gbps WAN connectivity to each.

In short, Netsync ensured that prior to the go-live date, everything was fully tested and delivering the solution, speed and security the school district was after.

“The district recognized the benefits of their decision to deploy a dark fiber network and not having to issue RFPs and renew service provider contracts annually or every three years,” said Shad McGaha, Chief Technology Officer with Wichita Falls ISD. “The quick return on our investment for the modulating electronics and new construction when compared with the increasing and recurring costs of a managed service compared to a predictable operational budget, the ease of adding new circuits or increasing bandwidth without having to rely on a service provider.”

“The result has been the district’s ability to hire two more educators with the savings,” said McGaha. “Good for the students and the district.”

More Productive and Less Expensive – sounds like a Netsync solution

The school district is now enjoying a solution that is perfectly suited for their current needs and is highly scalable to address its future. The school district has been able to deploy new services for the students that were not even part of the original plan and have seen more innovative uses of the WAN that have improved the student and faculty experience. The solution is exactly what Netsync is known to provide—an innovative, scalable and cost-effective solution.