Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Enhancing District's WAN Brings Technology to Students

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Enhancing District's WAN Brings Technology to Students

Article excerpt

With 30 different sites serving more than 16,000 students, the Puyallup School District ranks as one of the largest in the state of Washington. When Puyallup passed a technology levy that earmarked more than $7 million to upgrade its local and wide-area networks, the district's director of technology, Tim McKamey, knew what to do.

"There were several issues we had to think about in terms of making our network purchasing decisions," McKamey says. "First of all, we were using a centralized, terminal-based network that fed into a VAX 11/750 minicomputer. It was pretty clear that we needed to make the transition to a client/server network with distributed intelligence in order to take advantage of the latest technologies. In addition, we had to look for ways to reduce costs. Our leased-line WAN costs were becoming exorbitant. By any measure, it was time to change."

There were more than merely technology and cost-of-ownership issues at stake, however. Explains McKamey, "Until the levy was passed, the district's network was being used solely for administration. We had to find a way to bring the network out of the offices and extend it to the classrooms."

* From Evaluation to Evolution

Puyallup district's Technology Support Center installed its first computer network some ten years ago--a VAX 11/750 was the central repository for information and applications. After a few years, the district installed six different WAN links and clustered several VAX minicomputers together for added processing and storage power.

When the time came to move ahead, McKamey and his associates decided to go with Santa Clara, California-based SynOptics based on technology and support assessments. The network presently spans seven sites, with plans to extend it to all 30 district sites over the next few years.

Each location is equipped with a router, a file server running Novell NetWare, and at least one SynOptics LattisHub Model 2813 10BaseT workgroup hub. Plans call for as many as five separate Model 2803 hubs to be installed at larger schools in the district to supplement the Model 2813 hubs.

Virtually all of the network traffic on the backbone runs on 10BaseT Ethernet; the exceptions are several Token Ring LANs running in the business education labs at the district's two high schools. …

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