St. Cecilia Takes Leap of Faith with Structured Managed Services
Operating with a network built from the ground up by the community it supported, St. Cecilia School in Beaverton, Oregon knew it was time to update and streamline their infrastructure when configuration conflicts regularly left them insecure and inefficient. Previously, local parents from the community had donated time and gear, spending endless nights building computers and servers from “boxes of parts,” said Sr. Diana Oakley, Technology Educator at St. Cecilia.
“They had day jobs and were as helpful as they could possibly be,” added Oakley, “but it quickly became apparent that I needed some bigger support maintaining servers, chasing and fixing configuration issues in the network, firewall, and wireless access.”
Due to increased usage demand, quality of education became more dependent on the health of the network. “Students give up easily,” explained Oakley. “It is a huge frustration to the teachers and a loss of time to switch activities if the network isn’t working properly.”
St. Cecilia began their overhaul with a search for a new firewall and found one they thought would work. Structured was introduced to St. Cecilia around this time, but Structured discovered the firewall that was already in process to purchase was a poor fit for the school’s needs. The firewall was deployed and within the first month expected issues arose. Some students were prevented from using whitelisted apps and programs, while standard system notifications were blocked from distribution, among other issues. Structured worked with the previous firewall vendor to return and refund the hardware. Structured’s account manager then pitched an alternate solution to St. Cecilia, a Palo Alto Networks PA200, which Structured knew would better meet the school’s needs.
“Structured had been extremely helpful in returning that firewall and then helping us purchase and install a new one that was better suited for our environment,” explained Oakley. “Since then we have been grateful for the relationship that has been built between [us].”
The relationship has since developed into a regular professional partnership as Structured has assisted St. Cecilia in updating and operating in a streamlined, consistent manner. After the PA200 deployment, Structured gained valuable insight into the state of St. Cecilia’s environment and identified many crucial items that needed immediate attention, such as unmanaged switches, aging servers, poor network performance, and software updates.
With budget a salient concern, Structured designed a phased approach for installation and integration, offering various options for replacing hardware and providing Managed Network Services to supplement the lack of trained IT staff available at the school. St. Cecilia agreed that the benefit of an up-to-date, highly available, managed network was a priority for them. In addition to a monthly Managed Network Services agreement, Structured has worked with St. Cecilia over the last couple years to refresh their switching with Juniper Networks and upgrade their access points with Aerohive.
Since Structured’s installation upgrades and network support, the quality of education at St. Cecilia has increased. “Access and use of the network is more consistent and reliable,” added Oakley. “When students come into school and access a network handling 250 users or more throughout the day—more heavily in some parts of the building than in others—students expect the same speed and quality of access they have at home.”
Every day students and staff use the network for diverse activities. A technology lab with over 30 workstations provides computing access for students from nine different grade levels. Over 70 Chromebooks have been distributed for various student uses. Many middle school students participate in a BYOD tablet program, which empowers them to download textbooks and use various applications for class assignments. With Smartboards available in various classrooms, teachers often take advantage by syncing their laptops.
Schools that embrace and provide technology do not only require a high-performing network, but certified engineers standing by to mitigate errors, manage usage and identify new opportunities to better serve students and staff. Structured Managed Network Services have partnered with St. Cecilia on every step of their digital journey as they continue to evolve and transform.
“We trust Structured,” said Oakley. “I have been continually impressed with their engineers. They have been patient, diligent, and professional at every turn and with every challenge. Structured is the best and I tell that to everyone who asks or wants to listen.”