Dallas’ Challenge: Upgrade IT but Hold Down High-Tech Costs
Bringing the Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) up to speed (as well as to a computer-to-student ratio of 3:1, up from its current respectable 4:1) requires, before additional desktops can be contemplated, a massive commitment to upgrading the network. “First, we have to re-create the backbone of the network which we’re doing by replacing 180 to 200 servers with HP’s DL380G3 Pro-Liant dual-processor servers for faster processing speeds and considerably increased Internet and network access,” says Alden Gaw, executive director for network services, Dallas ISD.
Though HP has been a long-time partner with the Dallas ISD, the bidding for the contract was competitive. “Of course, price was an important factor,” says Ruben Bohuchot, associate superintendent/chief technology officer, Dallas ISD. “But we were also looking for a company that could provide us with a total solution. Several vendors offered some creative academic programs, but HP really hit the mark best overall. They listened to our needs, tailored a solution specifically for us and delivered exactly what we asked for.
“Our target is to increase the students’ and staffs’ Internet access by 370 per cent,“ says Gaw. “Where there are 100 ports, there will be 370 ports. It’s not just more, either — it’s more and faster access.” The district is also installing secure 802.11b wireless access throughout each school building, he adds.
In fact, the $135 million upgrade — $122 million from E-Rate funds — requires a sweeping re-imagining of the way IT services are provided to Dallas’ nearly 164,000 students and 19,000 staffers at its 156 elementary schools, 25 middle schools and 37 high schools. Dallas ISD had been mandated to increase its computer-to-student ratio; however, it did not receive a budget increase to support the mandate. In looking for ways to meet this new goal, the district turned to technology vendors to help identify a creative solution. After receiving input from a number of vendors, Dallas ISD decided to outsource their entire management process for its upgrade and is in the process of implementing infrastructure upgrades in the brick-and-mortar main buildings and the portable classroom buildings. This includes adding pairs of fiber between MDF and IDF closets, upgrading backbone speeds to 1000Mb, eliminating all dumb hubs and mini switches by upgrading MDF/IDF switches to dedicated 10/100Mb Ethernet power port switches with multi-gig backplanes, and increasing the port count in every closet. In addition, DISD is installing a secure wireless overlay in all the schools. Elementary school classrooms will be provisioned to have a total of five CAT5e connections, middle and high school classrooms with seven connections. Portable classroom buildings will be connect via fiber cable back to the MDF closet Ethernet switches via 100 or 1000Mb Ethernet.