How One School District Accelerated IT Modernization and Reduced IT Project Time by 75%
before the COVID-19 pandemic intensified the pressure to accelerate
IT modernization initiatives, there was an overwhelming demand for
technical tools and resources in our nation's public schools.
Yet — then and
now — the path to digital transformation is fraught with hurdles.
This is especially true for districts with limited resources, budget
constraints, lengthy procurement processes, and legacy systems which
can be cumbersome and challenging to update.
predicament Alum Rock Union School District (ARUSD) in San Jose,
California, knew all too well.
ARUSD operates 22
elementary and middle schools with almost 500 teachers and faculty.
The district is committed to providing its nearly 8,000 students with
high quality, 21st century learning, so they’re ready
for the future in a diverse and competitive world.
To achieve this
mission, Alum Rock schools are supported by a small but dedicated IT
team charged with transforming the aging ARUSD technical
infrastructure into a modern network capable of meeting the future
needs of students and staff — in the classroom, remotely, or in
For ARUSD, this
path would be forgoing a legacy system and adopting an observability
approach. The goal would be onboarding infrastructure, apps, and
services into your monitoring ecosystem in order to reduce IT silos,
enable cross-domain correlation, and increase collaboration — all
while automating visualization, analytics, management,
troubleshooting, and compliance tasks.
A patchwork of
on-premises, cloud, and out-of-the-box systems creates challenges
the ARUSD infrastructure presented myriad challenges for network
administrators. Like many K–12 schools, the district’s IT
infrastructure consisted of a patchwork collection of legacy
on-premises systems, cloud services, and out-of-the-box applications.
The district also had limited financial resources and needed to
achieve digital transformation without exhausting its already
over-stretched IT team.
A key challenge
for ARUSD CTO Brett Littrell was achieving visibility and control
across the school district’s entire network — from legacy
hardware performance data to cloud-based application and service
management. Littrell’s team couldn’t risk a single server or
switch failure taking out the entire system. Device management, user
authentication, security, and compliance were also important factors.
toolset creep with end-to-end hybrid IT management
Any number of
toolsets could help ARUSD check each of these boxes. But as many CTOs
know, as a school district’s digital environment expands —
on-premises and in the cloud — toolset creep can set in, and costs
of relying on traditional piecemeal approaches, Littrell chose an
observability strategy, which provided for cost-effective and
holistic end-to-end hybrid IT management. Investing in an
observability solution allowed ARUSD to consolidate tools, automates
critical tasks, speed up troubleshooting, and help ensure full
visibility into their IT infrastructure.
observability across ARUSD's on-premises and cloud environments have
simplified and automated critical network monitoring and management
tasks — all while reducing costs, saving work hours, staying one
step ahead of security threats, and remaining compliant.
reduction in time spent on IT projects
The result? A
more standard and secure architecture and a drastically reduced
implementation time. “From
pushing virtual LAN (VLAN) definitions to switches and changing local
credentials network-wide, we can do all this in a fraction of the
time,” said Littrell. “The exponential increase in efficiency has
allowed us to accelerate projects, reducing time spent by up to 75%.”
path to operational efficiency
is critical to advancing the learning process. But as the team at
ARUSD discovered, the key to making IT modernization initiatives a
success is to first establish a path toward operational efficiency.
About the Author
Brandon Shopp is the group vice president of product at SolarWinds. Shopp has spent more than 10 years with SolarWinds and has a proven success record in product delivery and revenue growth, with a wide variety of software product, business model, M&A and go-to-market strategies experience.