Lewisville Independent School District
“Infoblox is just rock solid. It’s foolproof. We just don’t have any problems with it. When you have so few people wearing so many hats, you need products that you don’t have to think about and you don’t have to babysit.”
—Network engineer, Lewisville Independent School District
Lewisville ISD serves all or portions of 13 municipalities in North Texas with 69 campuses and more than 52,000 students.
Five years ago LISD transitioned from a Novell system for managing DNS and DHCP to Microsoft Windows servers running bundled DNS and DHCP utilities. According to Tim Norton, a member of the LISD IT Networks Department, within 6 months of installing the system, it became apparent that it couldn’t deliver the stability the district needed to support its strong commitment to incorporating technology into teaching and learning.
In a time when schools throughout the nation are realizing the potential of technology to revitalize education, LISD stands out as a leader. Online instruction has secured its place alongside more traditional techniques, and the district is in the process of giving every staff member and every student an iPad. So far, 30,000 have been distributed. Technology-based instructional techniques such as “flipped classrooms” and online collaboration are replacing lectures delivered from the front of the classroom. “We are engaging students in their learning.” says Norton. “We are using technology as a tool to provide students and teachers the opportunity to learn and collaborate. For more than a century, education stayed the same while technology advanced around it. Now, we’re catching up.”
A major challenge from Norton’s point of view is the size of the network team. He is one of four IT technicians who, as Norton puts it, “do it all.” They manage storage, virtualization, firewalls, content filtering, server maintenance, and all the day-to-day tasks that keep the network up and running.
And if you think that four sounds like enough for a school district, consider this: The district currently owns more than 100,000 network devices. Teachers have laptops, iPads, and other machines in the classrooms. And the district’s BYOD initiative has opened the network up to anything the 52,000 students and 5,000 employees want to bring to school.
In something of an understatement, Norton says, “We have a lot of users, and a lot of devices going on and off of the network.” The district is in the process of completely upgrading its network, replacing its cabling and upgrading its wireless access points and controllers. And Norton points out that it is equally important to have a DNS/DHCP system that is resilient enough to handle the traffic that will travel over the new network. That system is already in place.
The Infoblox Solution
Five years ago, the Network Department asked Infoblox to demonstrate its solution. Pleased with what they saw, they submitted a recommendation to IT management, who approved it. The school district purchased 12 Infoblox appliances, and deployed them at a single location in the district. Eight are used for internal DNS and DHCP. One high-availability pair handles external DNS, and another pair is dedicated to the consolidated database functions.
Norton points out that the solution was installed in one weekend. “The cutover was smooth,” he says, “and it worked perfectly.” He also has high praise for Infoblox Professional Services, who wrote automation scripts for him, helped implement the solution, and make periodic site visits to make sure things are still going well.
But when asked what the main benefit has been for the Network Department, Norton quickly says, “The easy-to-manage interface, stability, and failover. Reliability has been the main thing. Infoblox is just rock solid. It’s foolproof. We just don’t have any problems with it. When you have so few people wearing so many hats, you need products that you don’t have to think about and you don’t have to babysit.”