Spring Independent School District
“We have been so pleased with the performance—even receiving comments from teachers and staff that they have enjoyed more reliable services—that we are considering expanding our Infoblox deployment.” —Principal network engineer, Spring Independent School District
Spring Independent School District (Spring ISD), located 20 miles north of downtown Houston, serves over 28,000 pre-kindergarten through twelfth-grade students in 25 schools within a 57-mile area in Harris County, Texas.
Spring ISD is a growing school district with more than 10,000 nodes in its IP network. Each classroom is equipped with one or more computers connected to the Internet via the district’s 10-Gigabit backbone network. Additionally, there are approximately 2,500 IP phones installed throughout the district.
Providing 24×7 access to the network, the Internet and the information necessary to optimize its curriculum requires highly scalable and reliable domain name system (DNS) and dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) services.
When Spring ISD established its network more than six years ago, the internal DHCP service was initially delivered via a single Microsoft Windows NT server and Novell Netware servers with BIND software were deployed to deliver internal DNS. As the network, its number of users and devices grew, Spring ISD increasingly experienced reliability, management and scalability issues related to its DNS and DHCP services.
The IT team grew especially concerned that the infrastructure contained single points of failure for the critical DHCP network services that are required to maintain network availability. Additionally, given the limited IT resources available to manage the network for the entire district, the administration and management overhead were overwhelming. And finally, the team expressed concern about the security vulnerabilities inherent in its general server approach.
As a result, in its quest to find a replacement for its previous solution, Spring ISD focused on finding a DNS and DHCP solution that was:
Reliable and scalable;
Integrated DNS and DHCP;
Manageable, efficient and easily upgrade-able;
After evaluating several options, Spring ISD selected and deployed Infoblox appliances with the DNSone package to deliver internal DNS and DHCP services for the entire network. Infoblox solution is designed to provide the foundation for next-generation network identity services in a secure and easy-to-manage form factor. The hardened appliance design and intuitive graphical user interface (GUI) enable the offloading of DNS and DHCP services from general-purpose servers that typically handle multiple functions and require significant administration overhead. Instead, these services can be easily managed by a purpose-built, high-availability (HA) appliance that is inherently secure, reliable and scalable, freeing network administration resources and providing increased security for these critical network identity services.
Two Infoblox appliances are currently deployed as a high-availability pair in Spring ISD’s central office. One serves as an authoritative device and the other as a back-up so that in the unlikely event of a device failure, availability of DNS and DHCP network services are maintained.
The Infoblox solution was easy to deploy and is simple to upgrade, because it eliminates the need to install and manage an OS and applications and to patch and support these components as had been required with the server and general purpose operating system solution. Additionally, the purpose-built appliance approach increases reliability and has inherent security benefits.
Pete Davis, Spring ISD network engineer, commented, “First and foremost, because there is no server to manage or underlying OS to maintain, the Infoblox appliances allowed us to dramatically reduce the resources we spent on delivering DHCP and DNS services. In addition to the system management benefits, we like that it is a one-button update for security patches.”
Davis concluded: “We initially deployed the Infoblox appliances for internal service delivery, but we have been so pleased with the performance—even receiving comments from teachers and staff that they have enjoyed more reliable access services—that we are considering expanding our Infoblox deployment to provide external functionality.”