Novell products unite a large school campus in the UK, delivering a one net solution.
Trinity school is a large school in England, founded in the 7th Century. The school consists of a secondary school, sixth form centre and specialist language centre, all based at a single campus in Carlisle. The school has approximately 1800 students and 200 staff.
When the Network Manager, James Gosling, first arrived at the school he was faced with a fragmented, overstretched and unreliable network. The school’s systems had evolved in several different directions, leaving them with 3 distinctly separate network systems. The network had little or no resilience and regular disruption caused real problems for teaching and learning in the school. Management and support of the network was very difficult because of the need to manage multiple sets of user accounts with different management tools. Application deployment was also problematic and the work had to be duplicated across different systems with limited tools. One of the biggest problems faced was the continued re-configuration of desktops by students which was creating work faster than the IT support team could tackle it. This left James and his team of 3, including James, with an ever growing backlog of work to tackle. The picture, as you will gather, was one of an out-of-control and un-sustainable network which left no time for developments of any kind.
When their existing ailing network suffered a fatal failure, the Network Manager, with the backing of the school’s senior management, seized the opportunity to embark upon am ambitious program to completely rebuild the schools systems.
The work involved was multi-faceted incorporating the recruitment and in-house training of an IT team and acting as system architect and lead network engineer to the rollout of a new infrastructure – from new desktops to a new high speed gigabit backbone, employing 802.1q vlan technology to securely separate sensitive administration data from that available to the classroom. Novell NetWare, eDirectory, ZenWorks for Desktops, GroupWise and BorderManager were utilized to bring it all together into a coherent sustainable one net solution.
Novell ZenWorks enabled greater control of the desktop – the Novell Application Launcher brought a standard interface in all classrooms and allowed applications to be distributed on demand. Employing the policy features of ZenWorks enabled the secure lock down of workstations, allowing control and stopping students changing configurations. This resulted in a desktop that is consistent and reliable. The imaging facilities of ZenWorks allows the rapid deployment of new software images to workstations. Using automation to cut down the leg work involved in supporting desktops has been a major part of the success, and ZenWorks proved to be the perfect tool for this.
Employing eDirectory enabled applications edge to edge in the network meant taking control of every aspect of it. Now a single set of management tools enables complete control of every aspect of network administration.
The scalability of the Netware platform means that the ratio of servers to workstations is far more favourable than it might have been had if a Microsoft Windows NT platform had been pursued. Also, although clustering has not been implemented, the load balancing features of ZenWorks has been used, in combination with distributing data across multiple servers to create a far more resilient network.
The features of GroupWise and BorderManager, which offer functionality far beyond the products previously used, are still being explored.
Novell’s schools licensing program has enabled the school to achieve these major infrastructure steps within tight budgets and allow the school to cost effectively license these products on an on-going basis.
These solutions have been implemented in-house without bringing in consultants. In order to accomplish this work the Network Manager studied for and obtained his MCNE, constructing his training so that it aligned with each stage of the program of developments at the school. The depth of knowledge he now brings to his role means his team and the school as a whole benefit.
Having a single school-wide directory authentication system has allowed elimination of the need for students and staff to remember multiple sets of user names and passwords.
When problems occur with desktops response is rapid via the remote management features of ZenWorks. Great use is made of the remote control facility to resolve problems swiftly from a central location.
BorderManager has brought completely new levels of access control and logging to the Internet connection, allowing restriction or access to sites based on the eDirectory credentials of users. These features are very valuable in an educational environment where there is a duty of care to the students.