Illinois' Marshall School District Implements Security Appliances from SonicWALL


Marshall Community Unit School District 2C in Illinois has deployed security appliances from SonicWALL for network security and secure remote access in each of its five campuses, including a high school, junior high school, and two elementary schools.

In its efforts to maintain compliance with regulations such as the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA), the school district had encountered limitations in its previous firewall solution's capacity, configurability, and security.

"Our old firewall couldn't keep up with our current Internet connectivity demands. My IT staff had to correct issues that we wouldn't have faced with a more dedicated firewall solution," said technology coordinator Darin Hostetter. "Our security concerns became serious, forcing us to have teachers monitor their students more closely, which subsequently took them away from their teaching."

Hostetter investigated alternative network security vendors before choosing SonicWALL. "I didn't want to pay extra for a Cisco logo," said Hostetter. "Unlike Cisco, SonicWALL offered the same security features without being overpriced. SonicWALL gave us comparable high-performance security features for everything we needed, and was still much less expensive than all the other products we looked at."

The district chose a SonicWALL Network Security Appliance (NSA) E5500. "Now that we've got everything behind the E5500, I no longer worry about platform vulnerabilities affecting our Internet security," said Hostetter. "Our Internet connection is now much more stable and consistent. We haven't had to reboot since deployment."

For assistance in the deployment, Hostetter turned to professional services firm Sikich. "Sikich sent out a consultant to help us set up and it was a breeze," said Hostetter. "In just one day, we had the E5500 up and protecting all of our teacher and student computers."

With its new deployment, the district said it has lowered total cost of ownership (TCO) in two ways: by reducing IT staff hours spent on configuring firewall rules and policies to meet regulatory compliance mandates and by eliminating the need for an additional server license. "The management utility is easy, straightforward, and logical," said Hostetter. "We've gained approximately 50 percent better download speeds and much better Web performance."

The district also deployed a SonicWALL SSL-VPN 200, which provides secure remote access.

"We've seen phenomenal success with the SSL-VPN 200," said Hostetter. "It's made remote access much easier and more pleasant for the teachers." With the success of the deployment, Hostetter now plans to extend secure remote access to all teachers and staff over SSL-VPN by the start of the upcoming school year.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.