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Comcast’s metro Ethernet connects Ill. school district to cloud

Wed, 10/26/2011 - 1:45pm
Mike Robuck

Comcast Business ClassComcast Business Services’ deployment of its metro Ethernet service to a school district in Illinois is a textbook example of how it can deliver cloud-based services while also cutting the bottom line through virtualization.

Comcast Business Services announced today that Township High School District 214, which is the second-largest high school district in Illinois, is using its metro Ethernet service to deliver cloud computing, virtualization and streaming video in the classroom, as well as other data, voice and video services that support more than 12,000 high school students across eight communities in northern Illinois.

The school district is on the cutting edge of classroom technology, with more than 6,200 computers, 1,300 VoIP phones, 850 iPads, 225 IP cameras and 400 wireless access points, but it needed a high-performance network to provision its various devices and services.

By using Comcast’s metro Ethernet services, the school district is armed with enough bandwidth and capacity to connect to IlliniCloud for 24/7 access and storage of its critical data.

“We believe the future is in cloud computing, and virtualization is the first step to bringing the district to a completely cloud-based environment,” said Keith Bockwoldt, director of technology at District 214. “Kids today are growing up in a digital world, and we want to prepare our students, educators and community for the future. Comcast’s metro Ethernet gives us the capacity and bandwidth to deliver cloud, virtualization, streaming video and other bandwidth-intensive systems to better serve our students and help keep us on budget.”

The school district’s server virtualization project has reduced both its hardware and energy costs. By using cloud-based servers, the district has saved more than $330,000 in hardware replacements and $45,000 in reduced energy costs.

In addition, the district’s HVAC systems are now monitored and controlled from a central location across its Comcast-based wide area network, increasing efficiency in HVAC management.

The district is using streaming video services and hosted applications to deliver additional school curriculum to classrooms and desktop computers. Plus, under a recently launched pilot project, 850 students will receive iPads, which will reduce the cost of physical textbooks and software licenses and facilitate information sharing, both in school and at home.

District 214 is also looking at an inter-district videoconferencing system for office meetings, which would increase efficiency and reduce travel time and mileage reimbursement expenses.

The district has moved to online enrollment for all incoming freshmen and started a pilot health care program that allows participating students to interact with hospitals and other medical professionals using videoconferencing and laptop computers.

“District 214 is a prime example of how schools can use Comcast’s metro Ethernet to take advantage of cloud, virtualization and multimedia programs to improve the educational experience, improve efficiency and manage costs,” said Bill Stemper, president of Comcast Business Services. “The district’s success shows us that these programs are not only applicable to the corporate world, as District 214 has achieved specific, measurable results from their innovative use of technology.”

Earlier this year, Comcast threw its considerable weight behind deploying metro Ethernet services in more than 20 markets across the nation. 

Compared to Cox Communications and Cablevision, Comcast was a little slower on its commercial services deployments, but after ratcheting up revenues in the small business sector, Ethernet services are giving Comcast a strong product offering for medium-size businesses that can range from 20 to 500 employees. 

Last month, Comcast released the results of its 2011 State of Communications Services in Commercial Real Estate Survey, which polled nearly 500 commercial real estate owners and property managers across the country that are members of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA). 

Among other results, the survey found that high-bandwidth connections from services such as metro Ethernet outweighed standard office amenities such as gyms and cafeterias when it came to picking an office location.

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