Wireless LAN handles heavy NC traffic

Nestled within a diverse set of suburban and rural communities in North Carolina, Pender County Schools' seven elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, and an early college high school educate more than 8,400 students every year.

With a focus on building upon its world-class faculty, schools, and technology, the district strives to provide innovative and creative learning opportunities that motivate students to succeed in today's increasingly competitive world. A crucial part of that educational experience is the technology and educational applications it provides its students. As it looked to support a full range of new demanding applications the district wanted to use, officials chose to replace its 802.11abg network with an 802.11n network. Beyond the performance gains, the network also would have to be reliable, scalable, cost-effective and easy to manage.

After an exhaustive search and market research, Landon Scism, CTO at Pender County Schools chose to evaluate two WLAN products. The first WLAN they deployed proved unable to meet any of the criteria they set. The controller-based equipment was not only costly and difficult to set up, but also kept breaking down.

"We had serious issues with the Access Points (APs). They required a specialist to set them up and to keep them running," Scism says. "We were not about to deploy that equipment throughout the district."

When evaluating the second option, Aerohive’s cooperative control WLAN architecture, Scism pushed the solution hard. He chose a pilot site at one of the district's middle schools that is a heavy user of mobile devices and graphics-heavy educational games. At the time of the trial, roughly 300 iPhones and 250 Netbooks were in place. "We pushed the Aerohive wireless LAN as much as we could," recalls Scism. "We didn't have any problems at all. Aerohive handled everything we threw at it."

And, for the next few months, Scism kept pushing the Aerohive network hard. After its lengthy evaluation, Pender County decided to standardize its wireless LAN deployment with Aerohive.

Aerohive's Cooperative Control technology combines an enterprise-class access point, known as a HiveAP, with a suite of cooperative control protocols and functions that bring the benefits of controller-based architectures but without the cost and complexity of traditional controllers or overlay networks. Multiple HiveAPs self-organize into groups, called "hives," that share control information to provide fast layer 2/layer 3 roaming, cooperative RF management, as well as security and mesh networking. In addition, HiveAPs work together to recover from hardware and system failures without requiring redundant systems.