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When Paul Garrett arrived as network manager at Charles Darwin School around 7 years ago, he knew immediately the school’s network infrastructure would need replacing at some stage.
“It was a job I kept putting off because it seemed such a huge task. My predecessor had done a lot of the work himself, and had just thrown cables through the ceiling, so they had not been properly terminated.”
In the event – and with the help of D-Link reseller Instacomm Network Installations– the switchover was completely seamless and remarkably, was carried out over the week-long half-term break.
The school had originally planned to replace the network at the same time as installing 100 new workstations and 100 extra laptops over the summer, but timescales had meant that the new computers came first – and the fact that the new machines still performed so poorly emphasised the importance of the backbone replacement. Students have their own log-ins, carrying up to 10Mb roaming profiles, and in the technology block where the new computers were installed, which also happens to be the furthest point from the server room, logging-in could sometimes take as long as 15 minutes.
Fortunately, the governors and head teacher understood the commitment that needed to be made to the infrastructure and rubberstamped an investment in a new D-Link core switch with fibre optic cable running to each cabinet, which house D-Link Gigabit switches, together with Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) switches to support a new wireless network. The school installed around 100 laptop and 100 desktop computers at the same time.
The performance improvement for workstations logging on has been dramatic coming down from anything up to 15 minutes to 30-60 seconds. On returning to work, staff commented how fast the network seemed. The CCTV network is now on a completely separate infrastructure, so the school can view footage when it needs to, without the constant 24/7 activity of the cameras affecting the performance of the data network.
“If you think they did all this in just a week, the support we received from Instacomm and D-Link was amazing. D-Link came out and helped configure the core switch. We were the first in the UK and I’m happy to report it’s performing lovely – it’s nice and fast.”
“D-Link is not expensive but comes with the sort of reliability you’d expect from a far more expensive supplier. We’ve never had a situation where there’s been a major problem with any D-Link kit. With minor problems we’ve phoned D-Link and they’ve been genuinely supportive, for example in supplying a new firmware upgrade. That leaves you with a sense of pleasure and a feeling that you’ve made the right decision".