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California Schools To Optimize Networks

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California is taking a novel approach to tackling the problem of network degradation in its schools and districts. The California K-12 High Speed Network, which administers the broadband network infrastructure for 81 percent of the state's schools, will be traveling around to individual schools and districts to analyze their network configurations, locate problems, and recommend fixes for optimizing performance. K12HSN is using Netcordia's NetMRI appliances to carry out the task.

Schools, like any other type of organization, can suffer network performance degradation from any number of problems--misconfigured network devices, port speed mismatches, duplex mismatches between servers and switches, etc. To combat this, K12HSN will run diagnostics on school and district networks to make sure that, among other things, "routers, switches, and firewalls are properly and optimally configured," according to Netcordia CEO Don Pyle, who spoke to THE Journal about the deployment. He said the NetMRI appliances will be used to audit the networks and provide a "scorecard" for the individual networks listing issues with compliance and networking best practices so that the individual IT departments can "take action to remediate and correct problems."

NetMRI is an appliance that inventories multi-vendor networks, automates the analysis of the networks, provides recommendations for implementing best practices on vendor-specific gear, and provides optional automatic policy enforcement technologies for reconfiguring and fixing network problems on the fly. It also provides user tacking and path diagnostics.

"Netcordia and K12HSN are collaborating to provide California's schools with the opportunity to better understand their networks and ensure end to end performance based on industry best practices," said Todd Finnell, CEO of the K12HSN, in a prepared statement. "NetMRI's built-in rules, Network Scorecard, and actionable task lists will assist schools with local network configuration in order to maintain reliable access for teachers and students."

K12HSN began with an initial purchase of NetMRI appliances last month. They'll be used for spot checks of school and district networks, but the districts will also have the opportunity to purchase their own units for continual monitoring.

K12HSN reaches 7,646 schools, 863 districts, and 58 county offices of education serving a total of more than 5 million students in California.

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About the author: David Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's online education technology publications, including THE Journal and Campus Technology. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com.

Proposals for articles and tips for news stories, as well as questions and comments about this publication, should be submitted to David Nagel, executive editor, at dnagel@1105media.com.

About the Author

Executive Producer David Nagel heads up the editorial department for 1105 Media's education publications — which include two daily sites, a variety of newsletters and two monthly digital magazines covering technology in both K-12 and higher education.

A 21-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192 or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education). A selection of David Nagel's articles can be found on this site.


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