Prestigious English girls boarding school with students from around the globe
Benefitting from unified management of APs, switches, security, and MDM
Utilising the network for educational, residential, and summer group needs
Set within an impressive 700-acre estate in the Surrey Hills in South-East England, Woldingham School is one of the top girls boarding schools in England and provides world-class education to both home and international 11 to 18-year old’s. With first class facilities for drama, music and sport, the school is very proud of its excellent record of public examination success alongside an extensive choice of extra-curricular activities.
The 200-acre main school site is comprised of a mix of traditional and modern buildings for teaching, boarding accommodation for over 350 pupils and over 50 houses and flats for teaching and support staff. With over 550 students and 200 staff on premise, IT Operations Manager Edd Rogers, and his IT team of four, needed a new network solution that would provide fast, reliable connectivity for the ever growing demand for a more mobile friendly network while maintaining the important security standards of the school.
Original Networking Challenges
The previous solution was at the end of its life and unable to be configured to take full advantage of many of the new services and technologies being made available.
The network firewall was unable to fully utilise the high speed internet connection Woldingham had invested in.
The network was composed of devices from different vendors, which could not be managed cohesively and created frustration for the IT team.
You read product descriptions on websites and you think ‘It doesn’t work that way’, but Meraki does. It’s the whole package and it just works. We’ve learned more about our network in the past month than we have over the past 8 years. The girls are coming in and saying thank you now, this is their home.
IT Operations Manager
Why Cisco Meraki
The simplicity of the Meraki dashboard makes it easy for the IT team to make changes as needed or to add devices in minutes to scale the deployment.
Unified, central management of the fullstack of Meraki access points, switches, security appliances, and MDM in one dashboard provides intuitive management without additional cost or complexity.
A Unified Threat Management security appliance is configured for granular Layer 7 traffic shaping, client VPN, firewall rules, and network optimisation.
Edd Rogers explained, “the ease of use and the amount of data we can collect, as well as the visibility into the network, makes it easy to simplify the complex tasks.”
Deep visibility into users, devices, and applications being used on the network allow the IT team to customise rules based on user groups.
Deployed 85 Meraki MR42 Wave 2 802.11ac APs throughout the school and residence buildings, as well as outdoor devices to provide connectivity to sport pitches.
A further 50 Meraki MR42 Wave 2 APs are also being deployed in a second phase of connectivity that has been undertaken following the success of the initial roll-out.
MX400 Security Appliance provides UTM functionality, aggregating functionality from firewall and traffic shaping rules, Active Directory integration, content filtering, automatic site-to-site VPN, and more. This then allows the IT team to customise how their network is being used and provide security for the students.
A series of Layer 2 and 3 switches replaced the legacy switch fabric, allowing the school to take full advantage of the 10GB connection and providing significantly faster speeds for users. Built-in features, like the Topology tool and automatic alerts, also allow the IT team to have granular visibility into network deployment, as well as notifications for proactive management.
Buildings and equipment that are uneconomic to connect with fibre, such as security barriers at each end of a 2-mile drive, can now be connected with the Meraki devices using site-to-site VPN, allowing full integration with the schools network.
SSIDs configured for students, staff, finance, support, and even summer groups — each with unique firewall, traffic shaping, splash page, and authentication settings based on group type.
All 350+ Boarding students and the residential staff are now able to feel at home in their residences by using services like Skype to stay in touch with family abroad and stream media reliably without the previous restrictions of the previous network.
Additional SSIDs can be configured in minutes, providing guests, events, and summer groups customised experiences when accessing the network.
By utilising the simple-to-configure Client VPN feature, teachers and staff are benefiting from the ability to access school resources from anywhere, including their homes.
It has become much easier for the IT team to control every aspect of their network on a platform built from the ground up for unified management.
Due to the new reliability and speed of the network, the school is able to stream performances, recitals, and lectures so parents abroad can watch their daughters in real time.
Using the Meraki MDM, the IT team can manage school-owned devices, pushing apps and resources remotely, while also integrating devices, like iPads, into daily teaching lessons.
Automatic firmware updates and feature releases included in the licenses provide a future proof network with significant cost savings.
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