Sep 07 2023
Data Center

A Strong Network Anchors Schools to Cloud Storage Solutions

Software-defined WAN supercharges cloud storage in schools thanks to its scalability, speed and security features for K–12 users.

Cloud storage solutions have emerged as essential tools for K–12 schools, enabling them to securely store and access a wealth of digital resources. Still, the efficiency and effectiveness of transmitting data to cloud storage hinges on a strong and reliable network connection.

To address this, some school districts are shifting from traditional VPN methods to software-defined WAN, a robust solution with benefits for schools that include scalability, security and speed.

Network connectivity lies at the heart of all digital functions within educational institutions, says Mithun John, SD-WAN product director at Extreme Networks. As schools increasingly rely on cloud storage, interruptions in network connectivity can lead to disruptions in cloud data backups and even potential data loss.

The consequences of such interruptions could be catastrophic, given the pivotal role that digital resources and online collaboration tools now play in education, he says.

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“Cloud solutions are common enough in school systems that teachers, students and administrators use the cloud many times a day, not only for remote learning but for everyday tasks,” John says.

He emphasizes that a reliable, strong network connection is critical for seamless cloud data transmission. The ability to transmit data efficiently and directly to various cloud providers is a key pillar of SD-WAN, ensuring optimal and reliable connections regardless of location or cloud service provider.

Abe Ankumah, vice president and general manager of VMware’s SD-WAN and secure access service edge (SASE) business, underscores that SD-WAN optimizes connectivity and network performance by intelligently routing traffic, avoiding disruptions and ensuring quality experiences.

Scalability Allows SD-WAN to Better Reach All K–12 School Campuses

One of the most compelling advantages of SD-WAN is its scalability. Educational institutions often require connections that span diverse locations, from campuses to branch sites. SD-WAN empowers organizations to establish secure connections across these environments through a single platform.

Mithun John
SD-WAN platforms securely extend the existing networks between these locations without requiring IT teams to set up a new network configuration.”

Mithun John SD-WAN Product Director, Extreme Networks

“SD-WAN solutions enable users like school districts to securely connect disparate environments, such as the data center, campus and branch locations, from within a single platform,” John says. “It’s easy to scale SD-WAN between locations because SD-WAN platforms securely extend the existing networks between these locations without requiring IT teams to set up a new network configuration.”

This scalability also aids cloud storage adoption, as it simplifies network expansion, accommodates new locations — like school buildings or temporary classrooms — and ensures consistently optimized network performance, John says.

SD-WAN Easily Transfers Data Between Cloud Storage Locations

Hybrid and multicloud storage environments are becoming increasingly common in educational settings. SD-WAN seamlessly adapts to these diverse storage approaches, leveraging its cloud-native architecture to optimize traffic across various cloud platforms.

By doing so, SD-WAN ensures smooth data transfer while maintaining its effectiveness regardless of the storage infrastructure’s complexity.

“With traditional VPN methods, K–12 users don’t have direct access to cloud storage and applications,” Johns says, adding that traditional VPNs route traffic through data centers before accessing the internet.

This comes with several challenges, including delays, poor user experience and additional costs, he says.

K–12 Users Can Access Apps Quickly and Reliably with SD-WAN

Speed, a critical aspect of data transmission, is effectively addressed by SD-WAN.

“Students, faculty and staff need always-on, reliable, fast access to the apps they use every day for teaching and learning, no matter where the people or the apps are located,” Ankumah says.

SD-WAN prioritizes critical applications, aggregates available uplinks and proactively rectifies underlying circuit issues. This results in fast and reliable access to cloud storage for educational institutions, improving the overall user experience, Ankumah says.

journey to the cloud


SD-WAN Integrates with Next-Gen Security Solutions

Cybersecurity is a paramount concern for schools, especially when it comes to sensitive data transmission to the cloud. SD-WAN offers integrated security solutions that enhance data protection.

“For example, an SD-WAN solution integrated with network fabric can be segmented between locations to prevent a lateral cyberattack from impacting an entire school district,” John says.

SD-WAN's integration with SASE architecture also ensures a comprehensive security framework that safeguards against threats and prevents unauthorized data access.

“Security offerings within SASE perform deep packet inspection to look at encrypted traffic from Software as a Service applications,” Ankumah says. “IT can set up policies to prevent access to malicious sites, blacklisted sites or sites that contain harmful content using web filters. This will help IT admins fulfill the requirements for CIPA rules.”

Ankumah says cloud-based SASE solutions automatically update policies in response to a threat landscape that changes almost every day. The solution provides anti-malware and sandboxing capabilities to prevent known and unknown virus attacks. The solution prevents sensitive data from leaving the school’s digital perimeter through data loss prevention. The solution also provides IT with the ability to control what students and teachers can or cannot do with each application using a cloud access security broker.

“For example, it is possible to prevent students from posting a document on a social media application,” he says.

Take the journey toward data center modernization for your K-12 school.

Illustration by Sey Yassine

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