Project Notes: Henry Box School, Witney

Taking a closer look at some of our recent projects.

School:

Location:

Number of pupils:

Henry Box School

Witney, Oxfordshire

1300

Major IT infrastructure update at
Henry Box School, Witney

Over the summer we worked with the ICT team at Henry Box School to implement a significant infrastructure update, including moving their system to a new server room, and future-proofing with new switches. The aim of the update was to increase the speed of their network and improve management. The new set up should allow them to adapt to new technologies and increase wireless bandwidth over the coming years.

Before the installation the school had a very capable HP 5406 core switch which was the core of the network and where all VLANs were configured. The aim of the job was to introduce new redundant versions of the HP 5400 series in the new server room and some edge cabinets to provide full PoE+ 1GB connections to every edge point in those areas.

An HP 5412R switch was chosen as the new core. Sufficient modules were added to cope with all server connectivity and the diverse fibre runs a school such as Henry Box has – made up of a multitude of separate buildings. These modules allowed for 10GB connections to all the new areas together with some 1GB connections to areas where existing switching remains in place.

A number of buildings were being covered by new HP 5400 switches and these were loaded with the appropriate number of modules for the ports required and patched as necessary.

One of the trickiest parts of the job was transferring the configuration from the existing system – the old HP 5406 core was to become an edge switch in the new configuration – a term that came to be known as de-corification (copyright Henry Box School!). It’s easy enough to copy the configuration off but it contained old references and quite a comprehensive VLAN setup. All this had to be set up again on the new core and tested.

A side issue when tackling an infrastructure project like this is whether to replace aging switching with rack or modular switching. Cost will often be the most important factor, and this depends on the number of ports in a cab – modular switching can be expensive but there is a sweet spot where modular switching becomes comparable to rack prices, if you have the right number in the cab. Modular switching would be the first choice if budget allows – installation teams prefer them too!

Back at Henry Box – once all the switch migration had taken place everything went very successfully (barring a frantic search at the last minute for a stray tagging assignment and a strange problem that prevented telnet access caused by an old routing command). The school now have a much improved system and huge potential to move forward using it.

This project has successfully enabled Henry Box School to take control of their infrastructure, manage it and allow themselves the space to grow within their new server room – an ambition of many schools today. The new switches will last many years and give them the backbone to expand into new technologies and increased wireless bandwidth. The project shows excellent vision on the part of the school’s ICT team, and CSE was pleased to help them put it all in place.

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