Case Study

Hawaii Department of Education Upgrades Slow and Unreliable WAN

Standardized enterprise-grade hardware jumps Internet speeds from 300 Mbps to 8 Gbps

Overview

The Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) oversees more than 260 public schools across six islands and supports approximately 185,000 students. Most schools were using outdated consumer-grade wireless routers and suffering from low reliability of Internet services over their WAN. WWT worked with the Office of Information Technology Services (OITS), responsible for developing technology at the DOE, to implement campus-wide Wi-Fi as part of a converged infrastructure initiative.

Challenge

The Hawaii DOE had poor Internet reliability across their many locations. Prior to this initiative, most schools were using consumer-grade routers, such as Linksys or end-of-life Cisco 3925s. The schools did not have the in-house expertise to properly manage and update the equipment. Servers were housed in corners of classrooms with wires hanging from ceilings, as what some would call, “cable spaghetti.”

Not only was the old infrastructure setup unsightly, it was slow and unreliable. Students’ test scores were suffering due to slow Internet speeds around 300 Mbps. There were instances of third graders waiting 45 seconds between questions when taking online tests. Ultimately, schools were unable to utilize online tools available to them.

Solution

After working with WWT on the campus WiFi solution, Internet speeds at the edge jumped from 300 Mbps to 8 Gbps. An IWAN deployment saw speeds further increase between 20 and 30 Gbps. In addition to IWAN and WiFi, the implementation of Cisco ISE allows IT administrators to see all users on the network.

As part of the equipment upgrade, WWT standardized hardware across all 260 schools for consistency and easier maintenance.

Upgrading the infrastructure was only part of the solution; the DOE needed Cisco experts to run their new network. In the past, funding these positions with internal resources had been a struggle due to regional union issues. Fortunately, WWT was able to provide the expertise required to manage the new equipment through a staff augmentation project, resulting in significant cost savings for the DOE.

Results

With the WWT solution in place, DOE network reliability has improved overall and more applications are able to move across the schools’ WAN. Better internet reliability has improved test scores 10-30 percent. The new infrastructure allows teachers to take advantage of technology such as video, mobile devices and outdoor learning. The DOE now has the ability to innovate and serve the changing needs of the 21st-Century learner.

Since this project, the superintendent of schools has gained more internal support for additional technological initiatives that will improve how the Hawaii DOE provides next-generation education to students. The school system was also recognized as the top ranked school district in K-12 broadband connectivity according to the 2016 State of the States annual report released by EducationSuperHighway.

WWT is now a trusted advisor to the Hawaii DOE with future projects in development.