- Installation of reliable WiFi network enables future-oriented learning environment
- High scalability for expanding campus, use of traffic shaping and security features
- Intuitive management of the network with limited IT resources
The British School of Bucharest (BSB), an international school in the Bucharest metropolitan area of Romania, serves 500 students from ages 2 to 18 years. The school provides mobile devices and WiFi to teachers, students, and guests to enable modern teaching methods and optimal learning results. Alexandru Voinea, IT Manager at BSB, explains how the school built a reliable network in a fast-growing educational institution.
Original Networking Challenges
- All mobile devices needed to be fully functionable every day and everywhere across the campus for educational activities, so the school was looking for a highly reliable network solution.
- High-density wireless was needed for different events that take place on the campus: concerts, events open to the public (Artisan Fair, Summer Fair, Parents’ meetings or barbeques), and many more.
- With a fast-growing campus and student population, the school was looking for a seamless and scalable infrastructure without having to add resources, as the IT department consists of four people with only one network expert.
Why Cisco Meraki
- Alexandru Voinea most appreciates the centralized management from a single web portal for the entire wireless infrastructure and EMM solution, the ease of management and visibility, as well as the user statistics that the management dashboard provides.
- Software updates are automated, which is very convenient and saves the IT team time. The network is kept future-proof through automated firmware updates. The team only needs to choose a time and date and the updates are seamlessly pushed through the cloud. Additionally, Voinea has set automatic e-mail reports to keep his team in the loop with network usage. Automatic emails are also sent to the team when a device is offline for more than 5 minutes, so that they can troubleshoot as soon as possible.
- BSB decided to purchase and deploy Meraki after comparing the solution to other network vendors and using Meraki in their environment with a free trial.
“Our focus in technology in- and outside the school is to provide tools and resources to the 21st century learner. Excellence in education requires that technology is seamlessly integrated throughout the educational programme.” Diana Frentescu, British School of Bucharest.
The solution and the deployment
- The school uses 16 indoor and 2 outdoor access points (1 MR16, 2 MR26, 2 MR66, 13 MR18) for classrooms and high-density areas in the building. Those devices were chosen based on their price-to-performance ratio.
- It took one hour to set up the devices, and one day to test and adjust settings. Deploying additional devices took the IT team 10 minutes.
- Meraki is a plug-and-play solution so once the access points were connected, they automatically downloaded the configuration settings from the dashboard and was up and running within 5 minutes.
- The “Air Marshal” functionality ensures an advanced, secure wireless infrastructure for BSB. Air Marshal is Meraki's wireless intrusion prevention (WIPS) solution and is integrated into every Meraki access point. Air Marshal detects and neutralizes wireless threats, delivering state-of-the-art protection to the most security conscious distributed networks.
- Students, teachers, parents, and other guests access the WiFi with iOS and Android mobile devices. Accordingly, the school configured multiple VLANs and set up three SSIDs for guests, staff, and students. Setting up local VLANs and SSIDs was a matter of a few clicks in the Meraki dashboard and allows the school to adjust rules and settings depending on the client group.
- Meraki’s Enterprise Mobility Management solution enables the IT team to manage hundreds of mobile devices. The team can access devices directly with the remote desktop tool, remotely push software updates to multiple devices simultaneously, or locate lost devices with geolocation.
- The school established different policies, for example to limit the bandwidth or set up firewall rules that block whole application categories like gaming, or specific social media pages, like Facebook.
- The “Location Heatmap” feature provides the school with an overview of high-density areas on the campus, so IT can adjust and improve the placement and most suitable model of APs.
“The intuitive Meraki cloud-managed dashboard is really helping us to administer a powerful wireless solution that can scale as the business grows, and to easily manage a growing fleet of 700 mobile and desktop institution-owned devices.” Alexandru Voinea, IT Manager, British School of Bucharest, Romania.
- The administration and scalability of the schools’ network improved dramatically due to the use of the Meraki dashboard.
- One of the aims of BSB is to provide students with a positive, stimulating, secure, and caring environment that encourages the fulfillment of individual potential and the growth of self-esteem in all areas: academic, social and personal. Incorporating mobile devices into education and managing them with Meraki is one way the school achieves this purpose.
- Both teachers and students increasingly expect reliable WiFi access everywhere. WiFi is not seen as “a nice to have” feature anymore, but is the underlying infrastructure of many educational activities. Using the Meraki solution, BSB is providing a modern, high-quality education experience that will scale with the school.