May 08 2012

Districts Must Upgrade Their Networks to Support Virtual Learning

A strong online learning program requires a robust IT infrastructure.

A growing virtual-learning environment makes heavy demands on the IT infrastructure, which must maintain high availability for all applications and resources. Increased traffic and bandwidth-intensive applications, such as streaming video, require optimized wired and wireless networks, as well as additional server and storage resources.

To optimize the use of existing network resources, districts should upgrade switches and deploy network management software. These systems monitor network traffic and application performance and send out alerts when transmission speeds or application availability approach predetermined performance minimums.

Students now expect to access virtual-learning systems, along with other school computing resources, through their mobile devices. To meet bandwidth demands, districts should consider upgrading wireless networks to the 802.11n protocol. Wireless N promises up to 10 times the transfer speeds and twice the range of networks using earlier versions of the 802.11 standard.

The growth of digital content and increased traffic to and from applications in the virtual-learning environment requires optimized server and storage resources. Consolidating the server infrastructure through virtualization and updated management tools can reduce hardware costs and headaches, especially as web and application servers multiply.

The need for high availability will require most districts building virtual-learning environments to use networked storage, either a storage area network (SAN) or network-attached storage. SANs offer storage virtualization, which presents all the storage devices on the network as a consolidated storage resource that can be centrally managed. Stand-alone storage virtualization products also are available.

For more information, read CDW•G’s Virtual Learning in K–12 Education white paper.


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