HelpSystems Blog

Why a Reliable Network Infrastructure is a Necessity for Tech-Driven Schools

It’s no secret that schools at all levels are becoming increasingly tech-driven. We can thank the rise of EdTech for that. As networks grow in users and devices, investing regularly in your core IT infrastructure helps everything your network supports, including hardware, applications, and services, run smoothly.

Any IT professional knows that creating a healthy network takes time, effort, and money. Unfortunately, asking stakeholders for money to upgrade switches or buy network monitoring tools isn’t as thrilling as asking for other IT investments (say, a brand-new computer lab or shiny new laptops).

How do you convince budget-holders of the value of creating and maintaining a reliable network infrastructure?

No network? No tech!

Your school board or superintendent probably doesn't visit your network closets or receive network performance alerts. The network is the last last thing on their minds...

… until those new iPads you just bought for your elementary-schoolers won’t connect to the network (yikes).

As Director of IT for a tech-savvy Texas school district, Lisa Nelson knows the danger of bringing in new devices without the backend infrastructure to support them. In a recent webinar, she talked about how schools buy new, exciting devices but “the infrastructure backend is sometimes an afterthought. That’s sort of scary.”

Nothing could be worse than ordering new devices, and then finding out they don’t work because the network infrastructure can’t support them. Lisa put it simply: “If you don’t have the infrastructure in place, you can’t provide the technology for the students.”

Explaining to her school board exactly how a healthy, updated core infrastructure enables new tech to work helps Lisa secure the funding she needs to put towards that infrastructure.

Increasingly digital curriculums demand reliable networks

The IT infrastructure is the backbone that enables all your school’s digital initiatives. If the majority of your teaching resources are digital, there’s no room for the network to fail.

Matt Federoff is CIO for the fastest-growing school district in Arizona, Vail Unified School District. In the same webinar previously mentioned, he shared that because the entire Vail district is textbook-free, the network has to be up and running at all times. Teachers and students depend on it.

“When you have pervasive digital content,” Matt said, “reliable networking is simply a given.”  

More and more schools are taking this route. If yours is following suit, the importance of a reliable network will only continue to grow.

Your network is a long-term investment

Working on the network is like performing yearly maintenance on your car. If you keep what’s under the hood running, you’ll go miles and miles without running into dangerous issues that you could have prevented.

As your school grows—more users, more employees, more devices—your network grows with it. And as the network grows, it will require continual investment. Even wireless networks demand constant updates. As Matt put it, “We continue to make investments in our core infrastructure, and we continually find weak links. We put in new wireless, which requires a switch, which requires a new core router, which requires a new firewall.”

Bottom line: your network infrastructure is here to stay, and it’s a long-term investment. From upgrading hardware to investing in network management and monitoring tools, “that investment always pays off,” said Matt.

And if your school leaders understand that, you’ll have no problem securing the funds you need to keep that infrastructure in tip-top shape.

You can get more insights on the challenges and best practices of driving tech in today’s schools by watching the on-demand webinar, “How Tech-Driven Schools Survive and Thrive.”

 

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