Friday, January 25, 2013

Dual Internet Connections Come to BVSD

Having a backup plan is always part of life: we buy insurance to guard our assets; we use GPS to find detours; we carry jumper cables in the car. Having a backup plan is even more important when the cost of failure is high. Until now, BVSD has not had a backup connection to the internet, and the cost of an outage—in terms of lost productivity and instructional time—is significant.

Many of you may be wondering, "What about the big fiber network upgrade that BVSD did a few years ago—didn't that create the backup we need?" That's a great question that requires some clarification. The internet connection is not the same as the BVSD network. The BVSD network consists of the fiber that connects the schools within the district. It’s basically a closed circuit with its own backup plan (called “redundancy”). Even though we had redundancy within the BVSD network, this network had only one connection to the internet. 

Our internet connection is the pipe that links the BVSD network to the internet. In January 2013, the Board of Education approved a second pipe to the internet that will provide redundancy.

Creating a backup plan simply means that we create a second internet connection. The diagram below represents this concept.

Why is it important that we maintain a connection to the internet? Simply put, BVSD staff and students rely more and more on the internet to be successful. Within the last year, BVSD moved email, calendars, payroll, finance, HR systems, and several educational tools to the cloud; next year we plan to move even more applications to the cloud. Cloud-based tools have many advantages (such as mobile access) but they require a reliable internet connection. (Not clear on what “the cloud” is? Read my post: The BVSD Move to the Cloud.) When our internet connection fails we can’t access our essential, district-wide tools: this is a high-cost failure.

Most of the time you don’t need to think about IT infrastructure-level projects like this one. In fact, if our infrastructure works seamlessly then you shouldn't notice it at all. 

If you have any feedback about the dual internet connection coming to BVSD, please comment at the bottom of this post.