NetBeez and Cisco Help School District Pivot to New Normal

By August 26, 2020Customers, NetBeez

NetBeez and Cisco Help School District Pivot to New Normal: Webinar

covid virtual learning

Loudoun County Public Schools: A Textbook Case of a Forward-Thinking District 

School districts are at the epicenter of the (hard but necessary) shift to the new normal. They have to deliver everything from engaging educational content to meals and special needs’ services within the same tight budgets. On the IT side, tech teams are responsible for maintaining networks that span dozens, if not hundreds, of locations.  So we were thrilled to talk to one of the most forward-thinking school districts in the United States (Loudoun County, Virginia) about what they were doing before and after the Covid19 pandemic.

To put things into perspective, the Loudoun Country School District is remarkable on multiple levels. They serve Ashburn, Virginia – a city known for their vast data centers. In some ways, Ashburn is at the epicenter of the cloud era, a kind of cloud city. There are a mere handful of cities in the world with as much square footage and fiber-dedicated to cloud computing. 

The parents of the children attending Loudoun Schools are, of course, among the most tech-savvy anywhere, including Silicon Valley. But the district is large and also serves rural
areas. They were distributing Chromebooks in phases over the last couple of years and had
to quickly distribute more, right after the pandemic struck. 
When the pandemic hit they went to virtual classrooms almost overnight.

Welcome to Mitch Dickey’s (@Badger_Fi) world. He and his teammates manage a large network serving 80 thousand students, empowered with Chromebooks and almost every kind of BYOD available. This technology spans across thousands of classrooms in more than 90 schools and now tens of thousands of homes. They call it “BYOT”, where the T stands for technology. Tens of thousands of concurrent sessions across the district, and most of them critical to delivering education and related services.

Given the virtually seamless, textbook shift to remote education one might be tempted to think the core data center and network might become less strategic to the District. Hardly.  As Mitch explains it, the remote education shift put even more stress on the data center and network, which was still delivering content and services as usual over wired and wireless networks into an even more complex mix of VPNs and service provider networks.

“The Cisco Catalyst9k and NetBeez integration was a game changer for us,” Mitch advised when asked about how they were able to make the shift to remote education so quickly. “We were able to install 5 NetBeez sensors across the district in under an hour.” That’s an average sensor deployment time of 12 minutes.

Like any K-12 district, the Loudoun team watches their budgets and priorities. Their network is comparable to many large organizations in terms of endpoints and concurrent sessions and perhaps unique in terms of the variety of devices allowed to connect. 

“The Cisco/NetBeez integration gave us the ability to both quickly deploy a sensor and diagnose an issue across the District, in the time it would usually take to simply send out an engineer.” Root cause analysis could be accelerated, freeing up time to tackle the pivot to the new demands of remote education.

Network and help desk teams can have their hands full when it comes to supporting remote office and remote user networks. While they are two very different scenarios, they both put a host of new demands on a team.  

By accelerating root cause analysis these teams can be freed up to support new initiatives, from remote worker to remote office and now remote education. When network and help desk teams are at top form and can diagnose issues quickly, great things happen; even beyond the data center and core network in the homes of remote students and workers.

That’s why you’ll want to attend this upcoming webinar: to find out how your team can have a big impact well beyond the walls of your headquarters or data center. It starts with being able to diagnose root cause in hours or even minutes, instead of days or weeks.  Join Mitch, Saravanan and I as we talk about the power of integration.