The Diocese of Wollongong incorporates 38 Catholic systemic schools, spanning across the Illawarra, Macarthur, Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven regions of New South Wales. It has 19,500 students and 2,500 staff, including casual employees, across the schools.
As part of its High Availability Network Architecture (HANA) strategy, CEDoW needed to introduce network redundancy for its schools. This meant putting a contingency network in place so that learning and teaching could continue as normal if the primary network services were to fail.
CEDoW said with the shift to remote learning due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, the added pressure on networks from cloud-based programs, and bandwidth-hungry technology such as streaming services, the CEDoW IT team and Vertel implemented a solution that could withstand these growing network demands.
CEDoW acting CIO David Emery said, “We never want students to miss out on learning opportunities due to an internet outage. However, the reality is that it’s not uncommon for networks to go down, leaving the schools vulnerable to downtime.
“HANA was the vision of former CIO Alan Ibbett. This project is testament to the proactiveness of the IT team in identifying and deploying a solution, led by Project Manager Reuben Bardak, to provide always-on learning for our students and staff.”
CEDoW approached Vertel with a detailed plan that mapped out the specifications needed to align with its HANA strategy. Vertel was chosen to deliver carrier-grade resiliency, with NBN Enterprise Ethernet offering competitive pricing. CEDoW had worked with Vertel in the past for primary microwave links and knew that Vertel delivered high-quality services, providing confidence in Vertel’s expertise and ability to deliver a resilient, redundant network.
Vertel deployed the redundant network using NBN Enterprise Ethernet, which is built on an end-to-end fibre network. NBN Enterprise Ethernet also has the capacity to run in parallel to the existing primary network and can be tailored to guarantee bandwidth to different areas of the schools, offering CEDoW more flexibility and scalability for the future.
Emery said, “Vertel facilitated the project, managing NBN and other contractors, and made sure the installation was progressing. This, along with weekly meetings to coordinate and address any issues, made working with Vertel easy. CEDoW has already seen the benefits of the backup network, having experienced a few outages to the primary internet service — including during NAPLAN, with no direct or noticeable impact to our users.”
Vertel Commercial Director Tony Hudson said, “Vertel worked closely with CEDoW to make sure that all its requirements were addressed. With its foresight and innovative thinking, the Diocese of Wollongong has really created a blueprint and set the standard for other dioceses’ to follow when it comes to improving network availability in schools to ensure the best learning outcomes.”
This first appeared in the subscription newsletter CommsWire on 8 September 2021.