When the Decatur County Schools in southern Georgia began construction of a new high school, they also decided to install a new telecommunications network infrastructure. Typical of many school districts, however, they really only had a few IT people on staff and a relatively modest budget for the new network infrastructure. This meant their choice of networking solutions partner was crucial because equipment had to work well and it needed to be put together right. As an interesting case study highlights, Decatur found the right partner in Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert).
“My biggest issue was that I wasn’t sure that we would even end up with a fully operational network,” confessed Steve Dunn, who was placed in the position of Decatur County Schools director of technology just as the district was working on its new network infrastructure plan.
Dunn was so worried about the networking solutions partner contract he inherited, he had it scrapped and started the process again once he came aboard. The second time around was when Alcatel-Lucent was selected.
“I did a lot of research and got many strong recommendations for Alcatel-Lucent equipment,” he said. “One key factor for me was the number of hospital deployments; high-availability is important to Decatur but for a medical facility it can literally be the difference between life and death.”
The solution the school district ended up with was a combination of Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitch 9800 and OmniSwitch 6850 stackable LAN switch models. These were complemented with multiple Alcatel-Lucent OmniAccess AP105 wireless access points and wireless controllers. Handsets were selected from the Alcatel-Lucent 8 Series IP Touch phone range and connected to an Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCX Enterprise Communications Server.
The new system brings a phone to the desk of every teacher, something that gives educators the mobility to talk more easily with parents and students than when they used to have to go find a phone outside the classroom.
Equally important, the system is reliable.
“There are really only two people in our technical team that have the expertise to manage the network; that’s why it’s critical that when we implement something it just has to work,” Dunn said. “Our faculty doesn’t have the patience to hear that the network or phone system is down; they justifiably expect it to work all the time.”
The Alcatel-Lucent equipment fits the bill. “Ever since it was installed, our Alcatel-Lucent infrastructure hasn’t missed a beat: We have experienced zero downtime,” he enthused.
Dunn also is confident that the equipment will last. “What I really like is Alcatel-Lucent’s use of open, non-proprietary technologies removes the worry about changes occurring in a few years that necessitate junking everything you just bought,” he noted. “Protecting our investments and getting maximum value out of everything we buy is really important to the district.”
He added: “It [is] imperative to build a foundation that has the flexibility to accommodate future demands that we really can’t fully anticipate today. The modular approach of the Alcatel-Lucent equipment gives us the ability to adjust, creating a scalable voice network that will run strong both now and into the future.
Edited by Peter Bernstein