Isle of Wight County Schools deploy a controller-less WLAN

The Isle of Wight County Schools in Virginia has implemented an Aerohive controller-less WLAN solution throughout its nine K-12 school campuses. The county is comprised of 5,500 students attending one of nine K-12 schools, with 900 faculty and staff teaching and administrating the education process.

The district chose this solution in order to meet a state-imposed mandate to make it possible for its students to take Standards of Learning (SOL) tests online.

Virginia students now take nearly two million SOL tests online annually, and by 2013 online will be the primary delivery mode for all SOL assessments. The benefits to online testing is it allows results to be provided more quickly, and it provides innovative test items that challenge students to better demonstrate what they’ve learned. Going wireless in all of Isle of Wight’s county schools was imperative to meet these demands.

“We chose Aerohive over the competition because of their controller-less architecture,” said Joshua Spaugh, director of technology for Isle of Wight County Schools.“Going controller-less was important because it meant we were avoiding the issue of having a single point of failure. We really wanted to avoid that hit to the network.

“Also, performance is important. It just never made sense to route all the traffic to the same device over the network because you really lose speed with that approach. I didn’t see the benefits of a controller-based WLAN when Aerohive could provide the intelligence and control without the controller.”

Other key drivers for Isle of Wight’s decision to implement a WLAN solution were for flexibility and convenience. Every teacher has a laptop and access to mobile carts with 30 iPods on them to check out and share amongst their students. Over time the schools plan to use iPads and voice and video over wireless in the classroom, so going with a forward looking wireless vendor was extremely important as well.

Isle of Wight’s Aerohive WLAN currently includes about 200 APs that serve both faculty and students. Originally the schools used Apple AirPort and Linksys routers for spotty Wi-Fi coverage, but now they have a comprehensive reliable WLAN to handle the student and faculty-generated Wi-Fi traffic. Security was also important. The district needed to have secure SSIDs (Service Set Identifiers) as well as a guest portal and authentication to Active Directory and LDAP. With the Aerohive WLAN solution they get these features and more.