Lewisville Independent School District
In North Texas, the Lewisville Independent School District (LISD) employs over 6,400 educators serving 52,000 students grades PK-12 across 13 municipalities and 69 campuses. The district also has four STEM academies and two career centers, one of which is set to move to a new state-of-the-art facility that is currently under construction. Serving approximately 10,000 students district-wide per school year, the Career & Technical Education courses that LISD offers give students a rich learning experience grounded in real-world applications and settings.
LISD chose Infoblox over 10 years ago to replace a legacy Microsoft DNS/DHCP network platform and provide technology-based instruction, online learning, educational services and collaboration across an extensive network. Over time, the aging physical DNS/DHCP infrastructure hardware could not keep pace with the increasing demands of technology advancements, bandwidth requirements, Internet security, utilization and device expansion exceeding 50,000 iPads. Reliable network accessibility, high availability (HA), redundancy, resiliency, automation and cost reduction were all priorities for LISD’s infrastructure modernization. With a four-member data center team, it was essential that the platform automatically discover new devices, onboard students and staff, spin up new applications, scale to meet changing district needs and maintain compliance without much manual intervention.
LISD decided to leverage Infoblox’s reliability and upgrade its aging physical appliances to a completely virtual environment for higher performance, flexibility, resiliency and cost management. It also prepared for an increasing number of tech learning and SaaS applications. Tim Norton, LISD Network Engineer explains, “Infoblox just works. I was able to easily complete our Infoblox upgrade in a matter of days. Our upgraded Infoblox implementation includes fully redundant data centers, external authoritative DNS, a guest network, separate campus Internet connections, new applications and a new ring topology connected to high schools and middle schools.”
As a result, LISD’s students and staff enjoy improved network access and performance, especially amid the COVID-19-induced transition to remote learning. Norton continues, “When it came to our Infoblox network upgrade, we didn’t think twice. Having reliable DNS, DHCP and IPAM (DDI) services are critical for managing and securing our district network. Infoblox is just rock solid and easy-to-manage, handling everything we need and more. We can set it and forget it. Plus, we get to sleep at night without network interruptions or worrying about DDI issues.”
With an aging physical DNS/DHCP infrastructure, advancing technology, a commitment to technical education, a growing organization and changing service requirements, network upgrades are inevitable. For a small team of four engineers, updates can be challenging. For a single engineer, it can be overwhelming, especially if the upgrade must take place over spring break. Network scope adds perspective. LISD owns tens of thousands of devices, including laptops, a device pool that’s grown to over 50,000 iPads and other connected classroom electronics.
The customer: The Lewisville Independent School District employs 6,300 educators across 13 municipalities in North Texas with 69 campuses, 42 elementary, 16 middle, 4 junior high and 5 high schools plus 2 career centers serving over 52,000 students.
The challenge: Modernize an outdated physical DNS/DHCP infrastructure with a higher performance virtualized infrastructure for greater service availability, reliability, redundancy and scalability
The results: Virtualized infrastructure with Highly Available (HA), “set and forget” reliability, Improved performance, redundancy and resiliency, network scalability, and better cost management, Upgraded authoritative external DNS for easier management and control, Enabled easy discovery of new devices, user onboarding, app deployments and scalability to meet changing district needs, compliance and streamlined maintenance without manual intervention, Efficient critical infrastructure software upgrades completed with limited resources and without disruptions or outages
The district’s BYOD policy allows devices from 6,300 employees and over 52,000 students to connect to the network. That’s a lot of users, a lot of devices joining and leaving the network and a lot of traffic. The network delivers service through 12 physical appliances, 8 for DNS/DHCP, an HA pair for external DNS and an HA pair for database functions. So, upgrading from a physical infrastructure to a completely virtual environment—by yourself—in a week—is no small task. Add to that the impact of a worldwide pandemic that forces education out of the classroom and into a predominantly online, remote learning environment, and you have an intriguing situation.
Construction of a new state-of-the-art career center was underway, as was the design for a new elementary school. Increasing educational applications and SaaS trends were on the rise. More critically, to meet emerging COVID-19 requirements, policies were being modified to support daily online core, elective and technical classes taught via iPad and VPN link through remote instruction. To handle the additional demand, a second data center was added to provide active redundancy. Modernizing the infrastructure to a fully virtualized environment enabled flexibility to support resiliency and scalability to meet changing district needs. Fortunately, LISD had a proven, long-term relationship built on a reliable Infoblox DNS, DHCP and IPAM solution.
During spring break, Tim Norton replaced the aging physical appliances and deployed the new virtualized environment. He upgraded Infoblox’s DDI and used Network Insight™ discovery to capture all network endpoints and assets into a single authoritative IPAM database. In the process, he uncovered network assets that were not previously part of the original database. Further, he used the utilization reports provided by Infoblox Reporting and Analytics, along with dashboards, lookups, top clients and DHCP lease analytics to provide needed visibility. According to Norton, “I was able to do the upgrade by myself. The cutover was smooth and worked perfectly.”
The Infoblox network refresh enabled LISD to achieve its mission in delivering real innovation and limitless opportunity through continued network reliability, access to core and technical training and student and educator collaboration. Thanks to LISD’s technical focus and leadership, it was even better prepared to deliver services when the COVID-19 pandemic forced P K-12 educators and families into online learning through remote connectivity. Overall, the upgrade improved network performance, ensured HA and virtualized the physical infrastructure with “set and forget” reliability and redundancy. It also enabled network scalability, better cost management and improved authoritative external DNS for easier management and control. LISD could quickly discover all network endpoints and devices, streamline user onboarding, automate application deployments, enable scalability, ensure device policy compliance and manage maintenance without manual intervention. Most importantly, critical software updates were completed quickly with limited resources and without disruptions or outages. Norton concludes, “Infoblox is very reliable, and with a small staff, that’s critical. It saves us a lot of time and effort. The interface is easy-to-use, the platform is stable, and we have failover for redundancy. We just don’t have any problems with it. Better yet, we’re helping our users think of technology as their friend. And if we’re not hearing from them, we’re doing our jobs well.”