Viglen brings IT at Harrow School into the 21st Century
Distinguished careers in business, the law, medicine, the armed forces, the arts and the media are top of the agenda, as is the school’s Viglen IT network which plays a vital role in providing the school’s 822 boarders with 24/7 access to the very latest engaging educational resources.
Working hand in hand with Harrow’s 8-strong ICT team led by Dr. Christopher O’Mahony, Director of ICT, Viglen has been providing leading-edge hardware, networks, exciting and innovative software combined with the highest levels of customer service and support since 1996.
At Harrow School, ICT enhances the delivery, quality and effectiveness of teaching, learning and administration. Evidence of this can be found throughout the school. As well as a networked computer in every boarder’s bedroom, Harrow integrates ICT into almost all aspects of school life.
Pupils enhance their learning through access to a vast array of software. As well as generic tools such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite, the school supports
software for specific subjects such as Music Technology (Sibelius), Languages (Rosetta Stone), Design Technology (CorelDraw and SolidWorks), Mathematics, Science, Geography, Economics and English – the list goes on.
In line with international trends, the school makes increasing use of streaming media, which has required a consequent upgrade in optical fibre and network switches across the site. Staff and pupils are encouraged to innovate — not for its own sake, but grounded in good pedagogy and best practice.
Engaging simulation software is used to teach pupils about dangerous scientific experiments and Document Cameras are used to present 3D images of hazardous experiments performed by the teacher which are projected onto smartboards for the pupils to see.
1500 PCs are replaced on a 4 year refresh programme, on average 375 machines per annum. Throughout its long working relationship with Harrow, Viglen has been consistent in providing solutions that meet our specific needs. Every boy in the school has a PC in his bedroom — there are 822 machines in 12 boarding houses. Space is at a premium here so Viglen recommended the small footprint Genie Ultra Small that takes up considerably less room than a standard PC. Suites of PCs in the ICT, D&T, Science and library departments meet the needs of the boys during the day. There is also one PC per teacher per classroom, connected to a data projector and smart board as well as numerous PCs in staff departments. Each time Viglen launches a new PC it sends a sample machine is sent to Harrow to evaluate so the school can be confident in its purchasing decision.
Licensing is a complex area and the cause of many a headache in schools. Viglen’s software licensing team has removed this burden and helped to simplify the process.
I tell them what we intend to do on the network and they manage the whole process, presenting the whys and wherefores in bite size chunks. Harrow has signed up for a Microsoft Education Enrolment Subscription, so we pay a fee for each member of staff using the software, rather than paying a fee per PC, says Dr. Christopher.
Viglen presented the pros and cons of a range of solutions and after much discussion designed a robust future-proof network capable of managing significant volumes of traffic — one that could readily accommodate VoIP and multimedia resources and the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) revolution. The HP lifetime warranty was a significant differentiator in the product evaluation process.
In a drive to simplify the network, Viglen reduced the number of Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs) and improved bandwidth by replacing the existing 1Gb legacy switches with new HP 10Gb switches designed to increase the network’s resilience and availability. Hot swap components that could be removed without shutting down the system were also incorporated.
The evaluation, testing and implementation of the network was conducted at Viglen’s offices and onsite at Harrow School by HP Accredited Systems Engineers. The biggest priority was to limit downtime so the project was implemented in 3 stages.
The first stage was to replace the core switches with 2 HP super switches — 1 gigantic switch in a large chassis with a set of blades.
The second stage was to replace the 4 substation switches.
The final stage was to replace the edge switches throughout the school — 70 in total. The school grounds house 50 buildings in all, so working methodically was of paramount importance.
The new deployment incorporates a HP PCM+ Network Management Platform that enables mapping, network and device configuration and monitoring, from a single interface. Network-wide management control allows Dr. Christopher’s team to add, customise and restrict network management access securely.
Speed, agility and scalability are the three key benefits of the new network, says Dr. Christopher. The new system is robust and can be readily expanded, and programming is easy and much
more granular. The HP lifetime warranty is brilliant and Viglen’s HP qualified engineers provide all the support we need.
The support given by Viglen has been outstanding. As education specialists, they understand the market, have an excellent technical pedigree and respond quickly. I think of them as a critical friend — they look carefully at what we want to do, discuss the options that best meet our requirements and give us first class advice.
As Director of ICT my remit is vast, I am responsible for IT strategy and communications across the school, PCs for staff and pupils, ICT in teaching and learning including learning platforms, our intranet, web filtering, our acceptable use policy, Voice over IP (VOIP), etc. The list is endless and the solid support provided by Viglen over the years has been second to none. Viglen complements the skills of my in-house ICT team seamlessly, providing expert advice on PC procurement, Microsoft licensing and network solutions
Dr. Christopher O’Mahony
Harrow School, Director of ICT
Steeped in tradition, Harrow School is one of the oldest public schools in the country. Viglen believes passionately in promoting excellence in learning through the latest and innovative ICT solutions in schools. Harrow School was an early adopter of technology and has taken a very progressive approach — seizing the opportunities presented to them to enhance education, teaching and learning.