February 27, 2024

Article
3 min

How to Bolster Your School’s Network Architecture to Keep Up With Future Growth

Is your network architecture prepared to meet the requirements of emerging endpoints? Uncover key considerations for ensuring that your school's network architecture can accommodate ever-growing demands and operate with optimal efficiency.

The increasing number of endpoints in schools is a significant challenge causing constraints on network performance. To overcome this hurdle, IT leaders must adopt a modern network infrastructure that can cater to the current and future needs of students, teachers and staff. This involves optimizing the network infrastructure to efficiently manage the growing number of endpoints. Failure to evaluate and adapt the network infrastructure in line with the increasing number of endpoints can lead to weakened network performance, which can have serious implications for students, teachers and administrators alike.

However, financing a network upgrade involves more than just implementing a new network architecture. It requires careful consideration of budget constraints, especially for smaller schools that may struggle to upgrade their networks due to monetary limitations. To help overcome this challenge, we have identified eight guiding principles to consider.

8 Ways to Bolster Your Network Infrastructure

1. Assess your current horizontal cabling specifications and capabilities.

2. Choose the right number of network drops to meet your needs.

3. Ensure that your switching equipment can handle the speed from the edge to the data center and that you have enough available ports.

4. Consider possible future needs when planning equipment capacity.

5. Ensure that your internet connection is large enough to support your network infrastructure.

6. Confirm that teacher and student devices can use faster speeds.

7. Design Wi-Fi AP infrastructure to optimize bandwidth and coverage.

8. Configure network switches for security and optimization.

By following these principles, you can upgrade your network infrastructure while staying within budget and ensure that your school is equipped to handle the growing number of endpoints effectively. Additionally, configuring network switches for security and optimization will help guarantee that your network infrastructure is safe, efficient and capable of meeting future growth.

How Can Schools Tackle Staff Shortages?

In addition to the challenges of keeping pace with the growing number of endpoints, schools face a declining number of highly qualified IT staff.  According to the CoSN 2023 State of EdTech Leadership Tenth Annual National Survey, EdTech staffing issues continue to be a significant challenge in many districts. Respondents noted overloaded technology departments with an increasing number of duties put on dwindling staff.

Staffing shortages can severely impact network management, but organizations such as CDW Education can provide valuable tools to help schools manage, monitor and configure their infrastructure.

Services such as Wi-Fi-as-a-Service allow in-house control of the network while a third-party partner helps design the network equipment. CDW Education takes a consultative approach to help schools navigate potential challenges while optimizing network performance and reliability. CDW Education can also assess the skills of existing staff and develop those skills to backfill outsourced roles, potentially saving money in the long run while helping the school district become more attractive to prospective employees.

Use E-Rate to Help Pay for Critical Network Updates and Services

The E-Rate Program can provide up to 85 percent discount reimbursement to eligible schools for eligible network equipment and services, such as switches, access points, UPSs and firewalls. You can use this money to stretch your school’s limited budget for a faster and more secure network. 

For more information, visit www.usac.org/e-rate/ or call USAC customer service at 1-888-203-8100. 

State-specific guidance can be found here: https://secaerate.net/directory.

To learn more about how you can bolster or grow your network infrastructure, contact your CDW Digital Education Advisor.


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Cari Warnock

Education Ambassador
Cari Warnock, an education ambassador at CDW, has more than 20 years of public education experience. She forges alliances with various education organizations, striving to create equitable opportunities for all students. Previously, she worked as an education strategist for Dell Technologies and led Girls Who Game with Microsoft and Intel.

Dave LeNard

E-Rate CDW•G Manager
Dave LeNard is CDW•G's E-Rate manager, with over 20 years of experience in the E-Rate Program, including five years as an E-Rate consultant and 13 years with USAC in the E-Rate Program.

Tom Ashley

Chief Technology Officer
Tom Ashley was a K-12 chief technology officer for over 25 years. He holds a master’s degree in curriculum, technology and education reform. Ashley was a Captain in the United States Army Reserve and holds several technical certifications. He currently serves on the Indiana Executive Council on Cybersecurity, Indiana Cyber Security Task Force, and several NICE working groups.