Assumption College

Campus-wide, resilient networking for the future of its students at Assumption College

Assumption College made two significant moves in one networking transformation project: a shift to Extreme’s cloud-driven networking stack and to CompNow as its new systems integration partner.

And those suppliers brought their all to fulfil that trust by meeting the critical technical, pricing and year-end cut over needs of the College.

Establishing a love of life-long learning is the cornerstone of Assumption College in Kilmore, Victoria – a Catholic, Year 7 to 12, co-educational day and boarding school. The current student cohort of 1,350 is expected to grow to 1,600 over the next six years. And the College’s single campus covers some 36 hectares.

The Challenge

Technology adoption at Assumption is selected on its ability to help students reach their potentials. A resilient, flexible and cost-effective campus-wide network upgrade was to be cut over during the small window of the year end holidays.

The Solution

The technical excellence of the cloud controlled, end-to-end Extreme Networks solution, combined with the project management and implementation expertise of CompNow, delivered in collaboration with Assumption’s internal ICT team.

The Benefits
  • Wi-Fi 6 access for all indoor and outdoor learning spaces
  • Classroom, administration productivity up
  • Extreme Networks and CompNow partnership for the future
  • Current and future flexibility
  • Resilience, security for both students and systems

The decision to transform our network capabilities using the best providers in the market has fulfilled the aims of our school and the efforts of our teachers. With fast, reliable, campus-wide infrastructure, Assumption’s online support of our students is second to none.

Jennifer Dean Business Manager
Assumption College

The Challenge

The learning and teaching cornerstone at Assumption College is to establish an environment where students can be creative, curious people who embrace life-long learning. Jennifer Dean, Business Manager at Assumption College, says: “Everything we do is assessed against how we can better enrich our students, to ensure they achieve their potential. A driver for our analysis of technology adoption is about whether it provides greater opportunities for all.”

Assumption’s existing networking infrastructure was nearing 10 years old and it was absolutely time to upgrade. Lachlan Pollock, the College’s ICT Manager, says: “It had run its time. We were spending vast amounts of time putting bandaids on it. Our networks were no longer supported, we had no more security patches and we had reached the limits of integration – we couldn’t do really important things like visitor management.”

The Assumption team also knew that networking technologies had progressed immeasurably. With students increasingly leveraging digital content and apps, a move to Wi-Fi 6 was essential to provide faster, better access. The on-premise control was speed limiting and cloud controllers would take the brakes off. “We’re disabled without reliable access to servers and apps,” Lachlan says.

The College’s education model and technology use case would also require specific networking design work. It had to accommodate everything from the mix of school provided devices under its 1:1 policy, as well as a range of iPads, to high end notebooks brought in via the BYOD provisions within the boarding house. “The boarders are an interesting situation. We like to create a home environment, to allow them to attach personal devices to our network as other students have at home, but with the same sorts of responsible rules on firewalls and limiters,” Lachlan says.

On Assumption’s large campus – it is 1km from the maths department to the tennis courts – the new infrastructure also needed to encapsulate the entire grounds. Part of the College’s planning was to be able to offer great opportunities for outdoor learning. Another progressive aspect of the College’s approach that has an impact on technology provisioning, is that students are able to fast track their study – as an example, Year 7s may be undertaking Year 10 subjects.

“While we have strict protocols, we have to retain borderless, fluid access to all equipment, labs, rooms, open spaces and technology in general,” Jennifer says.

The new solution was to support the College for the next decade. “That required two things: we needed to establish partnerships for the long term, and we were very interested in hearing from them about what else we could do, what’s coming up of interest and how best we could future proof our decision,” she says.

The network infrastructure project had one further caveat. The transformation had to be installed, tested and cut over during the upcoming year end school break.

The Solution

To inform the selection, Assumption College’s refurbishment master planning and projections for growth had a large impact on the network project’s specifications. The ICT team surveyed all of the staff, including the executive, for their input. “This established both the pedagogy and business goals for the project – so we would be able to identify the standout proposal,” Jennifer said.

A crucial element in helping Assumption College make its decisions came from the information sharing Jennifer enjoyed from her membership of the high calibre Catholic Education Business Administrators (CEBA) network. CompNow is a long term supporter of CEBA and contributes to discussions on how technology can enhance the business management of Catholic schools across Australia.

“CEBA introduced us to CompNow and that imprimatur gave us the confidence to go ahead. CompNow then brought us Extreme Networks. We had found our two market leading providers. And it’s proven to be a great result for us,” Jennifer says.

Lachlan added that he had “never met a community as supportive as the Extreme Networks community – everyone raved about Extreme’s gear as we were doing our due diligence.

“The Extreme-based value solution CompNow brought to our school was impossible to beat. In the Gartner decision quadrants of completeness of vision, delivering on vision, reputation and ability to execute, CompNow and its experience with Extreme Networks is recognised in all areas,” he says.

The relationship between CompNow and Extreme delivered a very competitive price. Lachlan says: “They willingly came to the party to make the solution fit our tight budget.”

The new end-to-end, cloud network at Assumption College is maximising the Extreme stack. The platform’s Edge fabric switching delivers greater and easier control, as well as load balancing. The required scalability and agility are delivered by ExtremeRouting. And the upgraded internet capability delivered by Extreme added another Gigabyte link for redundancy in the network.

CompNow’s Project Manager and Business Development Manager worked to ensure all milestones were hit. Forward planning had all technology components secured and held ready for deployment. The installation was carried out during the holidays and phased testing completed while the school was empty, then with a pilot group of 500 students and at cut over.

Shared deployment responsibilities between CompNow, Extreme Networks and Assumption’s ICT unit was to not only reduce the implementation costs, but to upskill the internal team. “They were so flexible in allowing us to be involved throughout, to control as much as we wanted,” Lachlan says.


The Benefits

CompNow’s project management and deep relationship with Extreme Networks were key to the project’s success: “CompNow knows education, and they absolutely understand our school’s objectives and what will work best for us,” Jennifer says.

“From the Extreme-based value solution CompNow brought to the table, we immediately understood the huge performance lift we could expect. And they continue to help us see what else might be possible through our upgrades – what that ‘stretch’ might achieve for us,” she says.

“Since the arrival of Covid our dependency on networking has gone up a notch. The Extreme project has achieved the primary goal of end-to-end performance across the campus. We have full redundancy built in and uptime is a given. Outages are now more or less zero. As a benefit that’s huge,” Lachlan says.

With full Wi-Fi 6 access, there are no limits on how each of the College’s indoor and outdoor learning spaces can be maximised.

In terms of physical footprint, three full cabinet racks of networking equipment were reduced to less than one of Extreme gear: “That has freed up a server room and with less heat generation we save on air conditioning power use,” he says.

Another further example of the Extreme infrastructure’s contribution is the Assumption At Home lockdown strategy. “We have everything in place for our students and staff to easily switch between onsite and home. Irrespective of the conditions, we can enable all our students to be confident problem-solvers, who can work collaboratively and consistently strive for ambitious goals.”

A further advantage of the College-wide Extreme network is that “beaconing now comes from every device on campus so the ICT team has clear heat map of coverage. With this granular view, we can track students to within 1m. This has positive implications for pastoral care, finding lost devices and seeing individuals who haven’t logged into specific areas. This is vital given the size of our site and growing numbers,” Lachlan says.

Assumption College is looking forward to soon being able to automate rollcalls which will save 10 minutes at each class and improve productivity. Visitor access is to be streamlined using Extreme’s Private Pre-shared Key (PPSK) which sets unique passwords and will mean the ICT team no longer has to create accounts and track usage. Also upcoming is a take-home wireless kit for staff, as part of the College’s expanding secure environment, which provides equivalent access whether working on or off site.

Jennifer says CompNow’s involvement “didn’t stop with price and supply. They are obviously deeply committed to the education space – with support of organisations like CEBA. For us directly, they do things like sponsoring a corporate box at our capital programs fundraising event. And they are generously helping us bring 500 of our students into the Esports online gaming competition that promotes STEM, life skill and physical capabilities. CompNow is genuinely interested in helping us into the future, in matching student centric technologies to our school’s vision.”

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