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General Chat Thread, The importance of school internet connections in General; Arrived at work today to discover that the internet connection for the school is down. A quick call to the ...
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    localzuk's Avatar
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    The importance of school internet connections

    Arrived at work today to discover that the internet connection for the school is down. A quick call to the helpdesk enlightened me further - it is affecting the entire LEA.

    It may seem like it isn't the end of the world, but it is a bit of a major issue. Like many schools, we are currently in the process of doing online CATS testing, we make use of an externally hosted VLE, email servers, learning platform, and a plethora of other services.

    Yet, even though we rely on all of that, we have only a single connection, and the LEA have 2 internet feeds from a single provider.

    Surely, with more and more ICT being outsourced, hosted in clouds etc... redundant internet connections should be appearing as a standard feature for all schools.

    LEAs and RBCs don't seem to quite be grasping the concept that even a 10 minute bit of downtime can mess up an entire lesson for a class of kids. If that subject is only taught once a week, that can mean an entire week's contact wasted.

    Any thoughts?

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    joe90bass's Avatar
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    At our last tech's meeting with our LEA(beginning of this month), the chair mentioned they'd only just realised schools did online exams..............
    I think it wouldn't hurt LEAs/RBS to visit schools occassionally and see what goes on!

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    webman's Avatar
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    An internet connection is vital.

    Previous unreliability is one of the primary reasons we host everything internally ourselves. One instance the connection was down, so we called the ISP. We were told "a digger has gone through a pipe with the cable in" for the ISP's main connection to the next carrier. We asked about the redundant feed they informed us they had. "Oh, that's in the same pipe."

    And this is from the ISP, in conjunction with the County IT team, who want to run a LEA-wide thin-client system over their WAN.

  4. Thanks to webman from:

    Sylv3r (31st March 2010)

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    gwendes's Avatar
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    We were down on Monday - whole LEA. Using the hassle this caused to back up our request for a second line with another provider.

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    Arcath's Avatar
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    Cleo recently rolled out a 4 phone line system which means one can die and the school still has 3 to work with

    this system works fine untill someone trips over the power cable for the proxy servers and all 5 die at once, or the smart filter has a "i hate the internet day" and filters everything, in that case it doesnt matter how many phone lines the school has, its still not gonna work.

    The redundant connection needs to be with a different ISP, and there for emergency admin/IT Support use and an exam if its going on at that time.

  7. #6

    witch's Avatar
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    Dorset connection regularly goes down due to a dodgy cable high on a hill somewhere in North Dorset.
    Dorset IT announced that if the harnessing IT budget goes in 2011, then we will have to pay for our broadband from SWGfL as currently they top-slice the fund to pay for it.
    Several of us techies did point out that we would no longer need to use SWGfL at all and could go our own, and cheaper way.
    They didn't like it much.

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    We've had several early morning outages which were rectified before the start of the students day threw the staff and ourselves in a panic because of of World Maths Day (an entire day requiring constant net access).

    We are not permitted a second Internet connection through a different provider under the terms of our contract, and the contract for uptime is for a whole 24 hour period not specifically to the educationally beneficial hours, so the allowed (without penalty) outage of (I think) 6 hours could be 'acceptable' within the 6 hours of the students working day.

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    An embc uplink provider had a length of fibre nicked recently and while a couple of sites were a bit slower, the backup uplink worked fine here.

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    Pete10141748's Avatar
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    I agree there should be a second line from a different ISP with the 2 lines being as physically seperate from each other as possible (to avoid the "Digger" incident described above!)

    I've asked for a second line (or different, more reliable ISP) here before and was told no, we have to use E2BN and nothing else, although we did use to have 2 lines from them when we were seperate Infant and Junior schools but Finance decided not to keep paying for 2 when the schools merged together.

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    We have a second line as the borough one is quite uncooperative. I'll be keeping it under BSF as well. We've had to use it as our only line 5 times this year.

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    Yeah it is vital these days. In terms of impact on myself its just an annoyance, but for the wider school it is essential

    Luckily (touch wood) our connection is fairly reliable, and when it does go down its usually just external access, anything hosted on the WAN (such as the VLE and email) stays up

  13. #12

    nephilim's Avatar
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    We recently had 8 100mb Fibres put in for redundancy (each fibre runs to a different junction), so if 1 dies, the next kicks in and so on and so forth. So far its happened twice where a connection has gone dead and the next one kicked in almost immediately. It should be happening across all schools in Central Beds (except in Luton)

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    At our sites all have a backup link, for some its an ISDN backup, some its ADSL, for bigger sites is a Fibre. Some sites now have a extra P2P Fibre into the MPLS cloud, as we are running clinical data the uptime has to be 24/7/365. Luckily we don't get that many problems and if we do they are usually sorted out within a few hours and there isn't much affected.

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    ninjabeaver's Avatar
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    Norfolk County ICT have got ours right here. 20MB Leased line coming in for the daily use, but if it does go belly up then there is also now a backup ADSL line for emergency use. Testing it over the Easter Break.

  16. #15

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    In the LA we have multiple redundant loops that schools connect into, two backhauls to the EMBC core which is spread over 2 data centres, each having their own line ... one to JANET (damaged last week in a bodged attempted theft of copper) and the other is a commercial line via Affiniti. It seriously struggled last week but coped ... but there is a 3rd line to go in soon too.

    This doesn't provide schools with full redundancy as that would involve a second line into each school ... going via different exchanges and with different entry points into the school. With sufficient money 99.9999 uptime is possible. Please point me to the deep pockets.

    I would refer the honourable gentle folk to RFC 1925 (rfc1925) - The Twelve Networking Truths , rule 3.

    3 - With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine. However, this is not necessarily a good idea. It is hard to be sure where they are going to land, and it could be dangerous sitting under them as they fly overhead.

    I was told about a school in Suffolk who demanded to be allowed to keep their 'extra' line in case the LA one failed. Neither worked when there was a fire at the exchange which they both went into.

    Resiliency is brilliant to consider ... but get the first line working is the best option.

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