Cranbourne Business and Enterprise College Chooses Medhurst to Manage School Merger
“The transfer of students from Fort Hill Community School to Cranbourne Business and Enterprise College in September 2017 meant we needed to increase our IT capacity significantly to cope. Luckily both school’s IT systems were already managed by education IT specialist Medhurst. We did go out to tender to ensure we were getting the best system at the best price, but as expected Medhurst blew all the other companies out the water!”
Gary Dinsey, IT Manager at Cranbourne Business and Enterprise College
Cranbourne Business and Enterprise College (CBEC) is a large co-educational secondary school in Basingstoke, Northern Hampshire, England. The school serves Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 students between the ages of 11 and 16 with a specialist focus on business and enterprise. The business and enterprise specialism permeates throughout the school and students are encouraged to identify challenges and find creative solutions to business problems.
At the end of the 2015-2016 academic year, plans were started to merge students of local Fort Hill Community School with Cranbourne Business and Enterprise College. In the summer of 2017, the local county council approved the closure of Fort Hill with all pupils except year 11 to start at CBEC in September 2017.
Six years after a server virtualisation project managed by education IT specialist Medhurst, the server and storage platform was starting to creak and CBEC needed much more storage. With the announcement of the merger with Fort Hill happening at the same time, CBEC approached Medhurst with questions on how to improve their IT provision and manage the merger of the two different IT infrastructures. Luckily Medhurst also managed the IT for the Fort Hill Community School, so they were already very familiar with all the systems and potential work involved.
“We have been customers of Medhurst for a long time. Back in 2011/2012, Medhurst managed a server virtualisation project for us but storage was now becoming an issue and the switch and server hardware was out of warranty. We didn’t want to try and patch up old switches and servers that were already starting to struggle before we added more staff and pupils to the network with the merger.”
As with all schools, the biggest problem facing the implementation of new IT infrastructure is finance. Although combining two schools meant there were additional budgetary allowances available, it was important for CBEC to ensure that the new solution was affordable and demonstrated value for money.
Medhurst suggested a new architecture that comprised a fully refreshed virtualisation platform built on HPE ProLiant DL360 Gen9 Servers and an HPE MSA2042 SAN with automatic performance tiering across SSD storage, making it ideal for performance-hungry applications. Medhurst also recommended a new 10Gbps network based on an Aruba 5412R switch at the core and 17 Aruba 2930F switches at the edge. The school is also considering a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) scheme in the future and wanted to make sure that the infrastructure could cope with whichever method they chose to manage or provision those devices.
To make the most of their hardware budget, Medhurst suggested renting remanufactured laptops for students from Circular Computing. Circular Computing offers schools sustainable, affordable and environmentally friendly laptops that have been remanufactured before being sprayed and processed to a new cosmetic condition. All laptops come with a three-year warranty and offer schools enterprise grade IT without the cost.
“On Medhurst’s recommendation, we saved a lot of budget renting 30 Circular Computing laptops for students. If we had purchased new laptops, in three years’ time they would be worthless. But by renting the laptops, not only have we contributed to a greener economy, we have great laptops backed up by full warranties. And when we’ve finished with them, we’ll hand them back to Medhurst and Circular Computing for them to be remanufactured and go out to someone else – a great initiative!”
Increasing pupil numbers from 650 to 1000 and staff from 90 to 150, also meant that CBEC had to free up additional space in the school for teaching areas. Old IT suites were decommissioned and old desktop PCs removed to gain the extra teaching space to service the new pupils and to plan towards a future BYOD environment.
“Moving towards a more mobile environment and one where pupils can work with their own personal device certainly creates a more dynamic and creative learning environment but obviously brings some challenges too. But working with Medhurst we’re confident we can implement a secure solution that everyone will be happy with. The next step in this journey is to migrate to office 365 and for users to use one drive and move emails to 365 and the cloud.”
The new server and storage platform has been a resounding success with staff and pupils alike. Staff now have a reliable and secure network with terabytes to spare in terms of storage and in the future will be able to purchase web based applications for themselves and pupils to access remotely.
“The new solution has delivered major benefits across the school campus. All the staff have reported improved performance and no problems. If everyone is happy and has no issues, that means I’m happy.”
The staff now also have fast and reliable remote access to school IT resources using Microsoft remote desktop farm and are able to login remotely as if they were on the school site and access all resources as normal.
“Medhurst is by far the best company out there now for education customers. When we first started our IT tender process back in 2011, lots of local IT companies came into tender. We met a number of impressive IT companies but they lacked Medhurst’s education IT expertise and knowledge and couldn’t match Medhurst in terms of a future-proofed affordable solution!”
- Date June 25, 2018
- Tags Aruba, Education, HPE