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Shared Services

Another Cloud Network for Illinois

A high school district in Illinois has signed an agreement with Comcast that should allow it to build a private cloud network to supply computing services for neighboring school districts in suburban Chicago, similar to the IlliniCloud, focused primarily in Southern Illinois.

A high school district in Illinois has signed an agreement with Comcast that should allow it to build a private cloud network to supply computing services for neighboring school districts in suburban Chicago, similar to the IlliniCloud, focused primarily in Southern Illinois.

"Our ultimate goal is to provide differentiated services throughout this area, to 25 or 30 other districts," said Keith Bockwoldt, director of technology at Township High School District 214, about 25 miles northwest of Chicago.

For the past three years, the school district has had a server virtualization project, primarily for its own use, that Bockwoldt said has already saved the district nearly $400,000 in hardware replacements and reduced energy costs.

In a project that will be phased in, providing more services all the time, District 214 plans to include neighboring Northfield Township High School District 225 and the elementary school districts that feed students to the two high school districts.

With its existing virtualization project, District 214's network already supports more than 6,200 computers, 1,300 VoIP phones, 850 iPads, 225 IP cameras, and 400 wireless access points.

"Comcast Business Services President Bill Stemper said, "The district's success with this shows us that these programs are not only applicable to the corporate world, as the district has achieved specific, measurable results from their innovative use of technology."

Bockwoldt said his district already takes advantage of IlliniCloud, a cloud-based statewide IT network built by Illinois school districts, with backup for its financial, payroll, human resources, and student information.

However, most of IlliniCloud's client districts are in rural areas in the central and southern parts of the state. The proposed Township High School District network would primarily serve suburban districts in the Chicago area.

"We're not taking anything away from IlliniCloud," Bockwoldt said. "We're just looking to make things easier for the districts in our area."

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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