The dog ate my bandwidth

A Sydney boarding school has saved itself $60,000 in bandwidth costs by optimising an existing link to provide home access for students and teachers.

Despite having a 256Kbit/sec ISDN link, Abbotsleigh School was so fed up with the communications link between the school and the Internet, it considered buying expensive extra bandwidth to upgrade.

Instead, it chose Sitara's QoSWorks to optimise the existing link, thereby enabling the school to meet its bandwidth requirements.

Abbotsleigh currently runs Windows 2000 on a Citrix-based network on 16 servers and has 350 student workstations, plus 150 laptops for staff. On top of this, Abbotsleigh's 900 high school students and 350 junior school students are set up for external access.

Warwick Noble, director of technology at Abbotsleigh School, said the existing link was not able to meet student demands and suffered from overload.

Abbotsleigh, which has over 800 families subscribed to the broadband service from home, approached Netlan to provide a solution to deal with its broadband issues. Netlan then chose Sitara as it complemented the school's existing Citrix server network.

The solution is traffic-sensitive -- before 7:30am and after 5pm on school days, the solution gives priority to the Citrix-based traffic, while during school hours the LAN receives most of the bandwidth.

Sitara sits between the Citrix server and the user and controls traffic, said Noble.

"Sitara enables you to efficiently manage the pipeline. Rather than buy a 2-megabit fibre link and having one consistent bandwidth, which meant we would have needed to provide another tunnel to the junior school, this solution optimises the existing bandwidth."

By using Citrix Client from home and connecting to three Citrix servers at the school, students and staff are now able to use their home PC to undertake their homework and prepare for class, according to Noble.

The extra bandwidth also allows Abbotsleigh to take advantage of computer-based teaching. The fully networked school lets teachers provide lesson material to students via the public drive, e-mail or AbbNet, Abbotsleigh's intranet.

The Sitara QoSWorks solution was a matter of plug and play, and only took a week to configure, said Noble. The box cost between $15,000 and $20,000.

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