Since 1978, the Luca Pacioli Institute in Crema, Italy has been a benchmark for education in the province of Cremona, and attracts students from the neighboring provinces of Milan, Bergamo, and Brescia. Its 1,500 students attend two elementary schools, a junior high school, and a high school across two sites. The Institute’s extensive technology-based curriculum requires a single safe, reli¬able, and manageable network infrastructure to support all of its student and teacher needs.
Every student at the Luca Pacioli Institute uses a PC or tablet as a learning tool, connecting to the Internet with these devices through the school’s network. But with the existing infrastructure, there was no way to prevent individuals from connecting more than one device, leading to frustrating network blockages and slowdowns. The school needed to control Internet access, restrict¬ing its use to one device at a time for each user, and monitoring locations in real time.
Administrators also needed to be able to apply appropriate filters for each type of usage. This applied to elementary school teachers who give lessons using a multimedia interactive whiteboard and must protect against the risk of accidentally displaying material unsuitable for children, through high school students whose tablets or PCs have learning material pre-loaded but still needed appropriate safeguards.
Ultimately, the Institute hoped to develop a better network infrastructure that was also more manageable, allowing the technical skills of one institution to support the needs of the others and minimize ongoing costs.
WatchGuard was selected because it offers the complete package. The Institute augmented its existing network with WatchGuard appliances to create a more robust Wi-Fi network that allows multiple devices to be connected to the same control infrastructure and covers the entire area of the five school sites.
A new virtual infrastructure reinforces the existing servers and allows for a single network operations center (NOC) for much more efficient and cost-effective network management, along with tools that support the reporting and analysis of access activity. In addition, the Institute brought the network authentication systems together, creating a domain connected to Google cloud services, and a virtual private network (VPN) that connects all five sites.
Students, teachers, and administrative personnel were involved throughout the process as the changes were made, and all are happy with the final results.
The previous system required multiple sign-ons for users. Now, each person has a single user name for accessing the network, email, or the Internet, and is restricted to logging in with a single device at a time to reduce network slowdowns.
Thanks to unified user management, network authentication is carried out using the same credentials at all five educational sites, eliminating the need to repeat the proce¬dure at each site. And sophisticated browsing controls allow appropriate Internet usage for all levels, while protecting students from improper activity using the school network.
While the former network operated in fits and starts, the new system supports unified management of Wi-Fi devices, which enables stable, efficient network operation. This has brought additional quality-of-service improvements to a school that has already been completely computerized for several years and simply needed more streamlined and efficient network management.