With funding from the Australian Federal Government's Digital Education Revolution program, more than 911,000 new computers have been installed in schools across the country, but this has also put a strain on the existing network infrastructure. To meet the demand for streaming media and widespread use of mobile devices Daramalan College, the largest single-campus independent secondary school in the Australian Capital Territory has replaced its aging local area network infrastructure with a unified campus networking solution based around the new ICX family of switches from Brocade.

In the seven years since Daramalan's last major LAN upgrade, the demands placed on the college network have evolved considerably. The school now has 720 new notebook computers for students in grades 9-11 -- with another 200 in classrooms, teachers' offices and the library -- in addition to the 250 existing desktop PCs and the VoIP phone system. With the burden of supporting media-rich traffic flowing to and from these nodes, the existing network had become unstable and unreliable.

"Our old network, with its stacked core and daisy-chained access switches, was never designed to handle what was being asked of it," said Rob Wilson, Daramalan College's IT manager. "A core upgrade was needed to minimize network-wide downtime and the access switches replaced to provide greater bandwidth. We needed to make a change -- and fast."

Following a competitive tender, which included the incumbent provider, Brocade's technology was selected to provide the college with its next-generation campus solution. The project was fulfilled through local system integrator, Correct Communications.

To alleviate previous network access limitations, Brocade ICX 6610 Switches were deployed within classrooms, laboratories, offices and the library. The Brocade ICX 6610 Switch redefines the economics of networking by providing unprecedented levels of performance, availability, and flexibility in a cost-effective stackable form factor. Each ICX 6610 provides 48 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports with four 40-GbE ports that can be used to link up to eight units into a single logical switch with chassis-like reliability and performance. The college now has six ICX 6610 switch stacks in place, each of which has a pair of fibre-optic GbE connections to the network core.

For the core, Daramalan was able to take advantage of a 30-day trial program for an on-site evaluation of Brocade FastIron SX Series switches, which provide industry-leading price/performance for campus core and aggregation deployments, offering scalable, secure, low-latency and fault-tolerant IP services over 1 and 10 GbE. Specifically, the college deployed the FastIron SX800, which it found to be a solid choice for the network core. It estimated that the solution would pay for itself in a year by eliminating downtime and through a reduction in maintenance costs and other overheads.

"The whole project implementation was very smooth and we have already noticed a significant improvement. The network now has 30 percent more bandwidth and is optimized so we enjoy considerably better performance with greater stability," said Wilson.

"This reliability has enabled students and teachers to, for example, embed video streaming into their classroom toolkit, which is something we could not have dreamed of before. We have entire classes that can download programs to their notebooks, edit the required footage and produce media themselves in the classroom. It really is clever, effortless stuff."

With the ICX switches now in place Daramalan College is positioned to leverage Brocade's new HyperEdge Technology in the future, enabling it to employ single-point management to simplify LAN operations and mix-and-match switches as it expands its access network stacks.