Edmonton Public Schools

One of the largest school divisions in Canada drives the education experience with intelligent edge services from Aruba

  • Customer Profile

    Edmonton Public Schools is one of the largest public school divisions in Canada, offering a variety of alternative learning programs in arts, athletics, language, faith, culture and philosophy, as well as education programs for students with behavioral, cognitive, or learning disabilities.
    • Vertical: Primary Education
    • Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    • Customer size: Approximately 106,000 students and 9,000 staff across 238 educational and administrative facilities

    Use Case

    Simplify network troubleshooting to improve quality of service and performance for essential teaching and learning applications.

    Requirements

    • Capture historical data for analysis and troubleshooting
    • Monitor network services 24/7 to augment human resources
    • Segment network traffic to strengthen security

    Outcomes

    • Improved quality of network experience for teachers and students, delivering a higher-quality educational experience
    • Strengthened security of BYOD and IoT devices with consistent policy enforcement regardless of physical location
    • Saved time for network team by providing more precise location intelligence
    • Streamlined network troubleshooting through proactive incident detection and identification to speed remediation
    • Enabled adoption and expansion of cloud services with efficient network scalability

    With 238 schools and specialty learning sites, Edmonton Public Schools is the second largest school division in Alberta and one of the largest in Canada. Teachers and students across this vast division rely on access to digital education resources and tools every day. However, previous network issues were negatively impacting the classroom experience.

    Kirk Davis, Supervisor of Network Operations for Edmonton Public Schools, explains, "My team is responsible for making sure our networks are available and working optimally. If they aren't, the education process suffers. We needed a solution that provided more network intelligence and control."

    Technology as a Resource Multiplier

    One of the main challenges for Davis was how to cover such a large school division with just ten people dedicated to supporting the network infrastructure. Intermittent network problems were especially difficult to troubleshoot. For example, a teacher might report a problem, but by the time someone drove out to the school, it disappeared.

    Davis posed a simple question: "How can I stretch our people to better support all the schools?"

    He elaborates, "Ideally, we would monitor the network constantly to find those intermittent problems, but we couldn't do that even with 100 people. We needed a technology solution that could watch for everything that happens on the network for us."

    Improving the Network Experience with Aruba UXI

    Edmonton Public Schools has been using Aruba solutions since the early 2000s. Over the years the network has evolved from a handful of wireless access points to a Wi-Fi 6 network comprised of more than 7,600 Aruba access points on the wireless side and Aruba CX switches managing the wired network.

    Edmonton Public Schools turned to partner ACSI to address the monitoring and troubleshooting challenges of this large and growing network. The school division recently added Aruba User Experience Insight (UXI). Davis notes, "I currently have 55 UXI sensors on the network, which is like adding 55 extra people who are constantly testing our network. Those sensors, especially with the AI, tell us if there's a problem on the network that we might otherwise never have known about."

    Davis adds, "Having a solution that is continuously doing network testing and finding problems so we can either respond immediately or troubleshoot later, has been invaluable for us."

    AI finds network issues people may miss

    Leveraging the UXI sensors, Davis and his team perform more than 50 kinds of network tests—some out-of-the-box and some custom—that span everything from bandwidth and ping tests to measuring latency and cloud service performance.

    Davis says that the AI-powered Incident Detection component of Aruba UXI is especially helpful for finding issues before they affect users. For example, it detected and alerted the network operations team to a slow DNS response on the network. Typically, it would take a few days of monitoring to locate the affected server, but UXI pinpointed the root cause right away.

    "UXI has been a huge time-saver by finding issues we didn't even know we had or identifying problems on the periphery that are difficult to pinpoint. We're now able to quickly troubleshoot without sending someone out to monitor and try to catch the issue happening again. This has reduced troubleshooting time of intermittent issues from weeks to days or hours. With the UXI sensors, we can go back through the timeline and look at the data from the initial report. It's like having my own time machine. As a result we're able to make a difference in the classroom by improving the quality of the network experience for our teachers and students."

    Securing BYOD and IoT Networks

    Davis and his team support approximately 60,000 Google Chromebooks owned by the school division, but the network is also accessed by numerous BYOD devices—such as smart phones and tablets—used by teachers and students. Moreover, the network is populated with a wide range of IoT devices, some used to run the facilities such as HVAC, bells and clocks, and others used in the classrooms, primarily Google streaming devices and smartboards.

    To keep these different environments secure, the network team configured three separate network segments—one for BYOD used by staff and students, another dedicated to Chromebooks, and a third for IoT. The team uses Aruba ClearPass Policy Manager to ensure only authorized users and devices are able to access each network segment.

    "ClearPass enables us to maintain consistent policy enforcement across all our schools while allowing a lot of flexibility for people to move from school to school," Davis points out. "Because we're able to keep track of who is who anywhere on the wireless network, the policies will follow them wherever they go across our 238 locations."

    Location intelligence saves time

    To manage the wireless infrastructure, Davis and his team use Aruba AirWave for common administrative tasks such as firmware upgrades. They also extract device addresses and access point location information from AirWave and import it into their Splunk logging system for some not-so-common uses.

    Davis says, "Using the information from AirWave, we have created a city-wide map that plots the location of each of our network techs. That way if a particular school is having a network problem, we can quickly dispatch the tech closest to that school. It saves us a lot of time responding to issues.

    Scaling the Network for Continued Growth

    Edmonton Public Schools continues to grow and demand for network bandwidth is increasing accordingly. For Davis, such growth points to a fundamental need to choose a network solution that can scale. He saw this point play out when the school division moved to Google cloud services in recent years, and it is likely to repeat as new teaching and learning technologies are introduced to the schools

    "The Aruba solution has grown with the increasing demands of our schools and, in fact, helped make the evolution to cloud possible for us," Davis says.

    He concludes that having core elements of Aruba ESP (Edge Services Platform), such as UXI, is key to the school division's ongoing growth. "With Aruba technology and intelligence from AI-powered capabilities like UXI, we are better able to keep our network running reliably and efficiently as we continue to grow. That is central to our ability to help teachers and students get the most out of the modern educational experience."

    Read more

    The Aruba AP-515 access points give us all the Wi-Fi 6 features we need to for such a large education environment. They help us keep our network running efficiently, and as long as we can do that, teaching and learning run efficiently.
    Kirk Davis, Supervisor of Network Operations, Edmonton Public Schools
  • Customer Profile

    Edmonton Public Schools is one of the largest public school divisions in Canada, offering a variety of alternative learning programs in arts, athletics, language, faith, culture and philosophy, as well as education programs for students with behavioral, cognitive, or learning disabilities.
    • Vertical: Primary Education
    • Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    • Customer size: Approximately 106,000 students and 9,000 staff across 238 educational and administrative facilities

    Use Case

    Simplify network troubleshooting to improve quality of service and performance for essential teaching and learning applications.

    Requirements

    • Capture historical data for analysis and troubleshooting
    • Monitor network services 24/7 to augment human resources
    • Segment network traffic to strengthen security

    Outcomes

    • Improved quality of network experience for teachers and students, delivering a higher-quality educational experience
    • Strengthened security of BYOD and IoT devices with consistent policy enforcement regardless of physical location
    • Saved time for network team by providing more precise location intelligence
    • Streamlined network troubleshooting through proactive incident detection and identification to speed remediation
    • Enabled adoption and expansion of cloud services with efficient network scalability

    With 238 schools and specialty learning sites, Edmonton Public Schools is the second largest school division in Alberta and one of the largest in Canada. Teachers and students across this vast division rely on access to digital education resources and tools every day. However, previous network issues were negatively impacting the classroom experience.

    Kirk Davis, Supervisor of Network Operations for Edmonton Public Schools, explains, "My team is responsible for making sure our networks are available and working optimally. If they aren't, the education process suffers. We needed a solution that provided more network intelligence and control."

    Technology as a Resource Multiplier

    One of the main challenges for Davis was how to cover such a large school division with just ten people dedicated to supporting the network infrastructure. Intermittent network problems were especially difficult to troubleshoot. For example, a teacher might report a problem, but by the time someone drove out to the school, it disappeared.

    Davis posed a simple question: "How can I stretch our people to better support all the schools?"

    He elaborates, "Ideally, we would monitor the network constantly to find those intermittent problems, but we couldn't do that even with 100 people. We needed a technology solution that could watch for everything that happens on the network for us."

    Improving the Network Experience with Aruba UXI

    Edmonton Public Schools has been using Aruba solutions since the early 2000s. Over the years the network has evolved from a handful of wireless access points to a Wi-Fi 6 network comprised of more than 7,600 Aruba access points on the wireless side and Aruba CX switches managing the wired network.

    Edmonton Public Schools turned to partner ACSI to address the monitoring and troubleshooting challenges of this large and growing network. The school division recently added Aruba User Experience Insight (UXI). Davis notes, "I currently have 55 UXI sensors on the network, which is like adding 55 extra people who are constantly testing our network. Those sensors, especially with the AI, tell us if there's a problem on the network that we might otherwise never have known about."

    Davis adds, "Having a solution that is continuously doing network testing and finding problems so we can either respond immediately or troubleshoot later, has been invaluable for us."

    AI finds network issues people may miss

    Leveraging the UXI sensors, Davis and his team perform more than 50 kinds of network tests—some out-of-the-box and some custom—that span everything from bandwidth and ping tests to measuring latency and cloud service performance.

    Davis says that the AI-powered Incident Detection component of Aruba UXI is especially helpful for finding issues before they affect users. For example, it detected and alerted the network operations team to a slow DNS response on the network. Typically, it would take a few days of monitoring to locate the affected server, but UXI pinpointed the root cause right away.

    "UXI has been a huge time-saver by finding issues we didn't even know we had or identifying problems on the periphery that are difficult to pinpoint. We're now able to quickly troubleshoot without sending someone out to monitor and try to catch the issue happening again. This has reduced troubleshooting time of intermittent issues from weeks to days or hours. With the UXI sensors, we can go back through the timeline and look at the data from the initial report. It's like having my own time machine. As a result we're able to make a difference in the classroom by improving the quality of the network experience for our teachers and students."

    Securing BYOD and IoT Networks

    Davis and his team support approximately 60,000 Google Chromebooks owned by the school division, but the network is also accessed by numerous BYOD devices—such as smart phones and tablets—used by teachers and students. Moreover, the network is populated with a wide range of IoT devices, some used to run the facilities such as HVAC, bells and clocks, and others used in the classrooms, primarily Google streaming devices and smartboards.

    To keep these different environments secure, the network team configured three separate network segments—one for BYOD used by staff and students, another dedicated to Chromebooks, and a third for IoT. The team uses Aruba ClearPass Policy Manager to ensure only authorized users and devices are able to access each network segment.

    "ClearPass enables us to maintain consistent policy enforcement across all our schools while allowing a lot of flexibility for people to move from school to school," Davis points out. "Because we're able to keep track of who is who anywhere on the wireless network, the policies will follow them wherever they go across our 238 locations."

    Location intelligence saves time

    To manage the wireless infrastructure, Davis and his team use Aruba AirWave for common administrative tasks such as firmware upgrades. They also extract device addresses and access point location information from AirWave and import it into their Splunk logging system for some not-so-common uses.

    Davis says, "Using the information from AirWave, we have created a city-wide map that plots the location of each of our network techs. That way if a particular school is having a network problem, we can quickly dispatch the tech closest to that school. It saves us a lot of time responding to issues.

    Scaling the Network for Continued Growth

    Edmonton Public Schools continues to grow and demand for network bandwidth is increasing accordingly. For Davis, such growth points to a fundamental need to choose a network solution that can scale. He saw this point play out when the school division moved to Google cloud services in recent years, and it is likely to repeat as new teaching and learning technologies are introduced to the schools

    "The Aruba solution has grown with the increasing demands of our schools and, in fact, helped make the evolution to cloud possible for us," Davis says.

    He concludes that having core elements of Aruba ESP (Edge Services Platform), such as UXI, is key to the school division's ongoing growth. "With Aruba technology and intelligence from AI-powered capabilities like UXI, we are better able to keep our network running reliably and efficiently as we continue to grow. That is central to our ability to help teachers and students get the most out of the modern educational experience."

    The Aruba AP-515 access points give us all the Wi-Fi 6 features we need to for such a large education environment. They help us keep our network running efficiently, and as long as we can do that, teaching and learning run efficiently.
    Kirk Davis, Supervisor of Network Operations, Edmonton Public Schools
Feedback