09 Oct 2013
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New switches reduce network outages

By Rebecca Wood

Students at Bay of Plenty Polytechnic might not know the college’s IT Manager Rabindra Das, but they do know their network no longer drops out when they are trying to download or watch educational videos, or exchange information.

About three years ago, Das and his team began to address the serious problems affecting the network – there were frequent outages and student complaint numbers kept rising.

Today, however, there is no downtime and no complaints about network speed.

The Polytechnic has about 3,200 full-time students, although there are up to 10,000 enrolled across all courses on the 23Ha campus. Das estimates that about 500 students are connected to the wireless network at any one time, with many more on the 1,500 end-points scattered across the facility.

To address the network issues, he deployed Extreme Networks Summit series switches across the two main campuses.

Das says the change has made a huge difference in quality. “We have gone from having weekly issues and outages to having zero problems during the past six months.”

Outages could be anything from 15 minutes to three hours, and were taking Das and his team ages to locate and resolve.

“We were receiving a lot of complaints from students. Their experience was not consistent, the network was slow and often it was simply not working. Since we finished upgrading the network more than six months ago, we have received no complaints at all about network issues.”

Bay of Plenty Polytechnic’s core application is a student management system, written in-house, which manages all academic information and student records. This will be replaced in 2013 with the Tribal ebs4 solution, which records and manages information throughout the academic life of a student. Tribal enables curriculum planning and reporting of information, through to managing student data processes and task automation.

Other applications include Moodle, an open source learning management system that allows students to create dynamic websites and view multimedia learning resources.

The network upgrade has allowed the college to upload more multimedia and build high quality video and digital content. Tutors and course facilitators use this technology to record lectures or implement virtual learning environments to offer students real-time experience of, say, driving a heavy goods vehicle.

With all this digital content, running a fast and reliable network is critically important to Bay of Plenty Polytechnic’s modern and sophisticated student resources.

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