Sint-Janscollege, a school of tomorrow!

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Sint-Janscollege Gent (Heiveld Campus)

Introduction
The Sint-Janscollege is mainly an ASO school (similar to an English grammar school) with a
limited range of technical school subjects (Socio-Technical Education in the first two years and
Socio-Technical Sciences in the following two years). It endeavours to offer quality education and
contribute to a more well rounded level of schooling. A balance is required within the school
between transferring knowledge, creating a positive learning attitude, acquiring skills, increasing
creativity, exercising self-effectiveness and encouraging helpfulness.
To ensure all these requirements are met the school makes sure that there is an efficient learning
environment, a methodical established class approach and a suitable infrastructure.
By offering projects spread over several days, cultural activities, sports days, and company visits
being regularly planned it is able to give the students’ talents the optimal chance to grow.
The Sint-Janscollege likes to call itself a welcoming school where all the people involved, from
students and teachers, to support and admin staff, maintenance staff, grade co-ordinators,
management staff and the school’s heads form a community in an open, confidential and
pleasant atmosphere.

 

Challenge
One Internet Connection, Three Buildings
The Sint-Janscollege (campus Heiveld) consists of one main building
and two annexes. The main building comprises of the ASO part and the
administration department. The other two buildings are the sports facilities
and labs. The whole site will be equipped with one Internet connection
(Telenet), but this network must also be covered by a few clever safety
measures.
Challenging Requirements
The students’ Internet surfing behaviour must be kept under control, for
example. This means that the school’s network may only be used for its
original purpose of information and education.
The webmaster must be able to see what is happening on his network and
who is doing what. Also access of other parties to the Internet must be kept
at bay.
In addition, a control system must be available to regulate entry to the
sports building and facilities. Restricted access to this area is a must. An
additional problem is that the multi-purpose hall is often rented out to third
parties, one example being the local basketball team, who uses the facilities
regularly.
In case of any accident in the sports building, quick reaction is essential.
Therefore an Internet telephone line is needed to enable swift contact to
the admin department in case of an emergency.
Another important additional element is the bandwidth of the Internet
connection. This needs to be prioritised so that students and the
administrative department always have priority.

 

Solution
The ZyWALL USG 200 plays the main part in this case. It is located on the
first floor of the main building. This is not a normal firewall, but a figurative
bulletproof barrier just after the Internet modem. So every little package
that enters the network is initially subjected to a thorough check before it is
sent to the network switches.
Quality at a Competitive Price
The next requirement consists of two GS-1524 switches, which are
financially feasible for the school. Despite its reasonable cost, this model
also offers a few very important characteristics including:
- Web-manageable (user friendly interface)
- VLAN support
- Priority to VoIP (so emergency calls have priority to any other
network traffic)
All other traffic is distributed over the three buildings from these two
switches. In the main building wireless Internet will be offered in the
classrooms, internally, through a few NWA-3166 models. This model is
not an ordinary access point, but one that is capable of managing other
access points. It is also equipped with the fast wireless N-protocol and VLAN
support is also present.
The Internet goes from one GS-1524 switch to the sports building through
a fibreglass cable in order to shorten the distance. Apart from Internet
access VoIP support will also be very useful. A direct Internet connection is
possible in this way through an Internet telephone line between the sports
facilities and the admin department for emergency calls.
The labs will also be equipped with Internet through a second GS-1524
switch from the main building.

 

What Happens if You VLAN?
As there is one physical network coming in from Telenet, it will need to
be divided into several invisible networks. This will allow the manager to
identify what is allowed and what is not. This highlights once more why this
particular equipment was selected with these characteristics.
A first virtual network (or VLAN) will be made available to students and
the admin department. They will only be able to use it for information and
educational purposes. The network will be secured so that only profiles
known to the school will have access, each with their own password and
user ID. Anyone who is unkown will not be able to just access this part of
the school’s network. For guests visiting the school there will be a wireless
guest network through a second VLAN. They will have to ask the ICT coordinator
for a password so they can connect with for a limited 60 minutes
for one session. This avoids any potential misuse.
For the sports building: access into the complex will be managed with
badges. The system will use the existing network, but through a separate
part (third VLAN). The reason for this is that the badge system only uses the
part of the Internet it needs, namely communication between server and
badge. There can be no misuse. Access to these facilities can be managed
effectively through the badges determining time of access. Renting out
facilities such as the local basketball team is easily managed. With this
system, the basketball team will not have access to the building whilst
sports classes are given to students.
To allow users to perform emergency calls through a VOIP telephone line to
the admin department, there will be a fourth VLAN, also separated from all
other network traffic.
Whose Bandwidth is it?
The incoming Internet was prioritised in an initial consultation with the
school. In this case, it means that the students’ and the admin department’s
network has a higher priority. By doing this, there is a guarantee that the
staff will do their work efficiently and students will follow their lessons but
may still access the Internet if necessary.

 

Benefits & Advantages
A lot of advantages can be gained from this set-up. In the first instance, it
will be very difficult for people with bad intentions to gain access into the
infrastructure itself: the server and network equipment. This also applies
to users who could cause damage to the infrastructure unintentionally. A
second and important element in this is continuity. It is not hard to imagine
the disruption that could be caused for example, if the admin department
or the whole school is without Internet for a whole week. By minimising
the chance of this happening as much as possible, staff can do their work
properly and teachers are able to deliver their lectures more efficiently.
The Internet’s speed will also be ensured to parties who need it with this
solution. Managing the bandwidth will ensure that the student network has
priority.
The fourth element often overlooked is the future proofing of the solution.
With more and more students with mobile devices such as smart phones,
tablets and laptops, there will be a time when students will swap their
school bags for these devices completely very soon. The ZyXEL Solution
makes this possible already at Sint-Janscollege.

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