Effective Bandwidth Management

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					EFFECTIVE BANDWIDTH
   MANAGEMENT




                                               Education ICT Service –
                      Produced By
                                                    Technical Services
                                            To give practical advice on
                                      making the most effective use of
             Purpose of Document      available bandwidth in schools to
                                        support management, teaching
                                                          and learning.
                                                    Leadership Teams
                         Audience
                                                            ICT Teams

          Communication Category

          Original Publication Date                   November 2010

                 Next Review Date                            May 2011

       Education Portal ID Number:
            http://ccceducation.net                              6551
About this document .............................................................................................................................. 3
Summary ................................................................................................................................................. 3
Current Situation..................................................................................................................................... 4
   Fully managed ..................................................................................................................................... 4
   One to one connection ....................................................................................................................... 4
   Connection to National Networks ...................................................................................................... 4
   Centralised Caching and Filtering ....................................................................................................... 4
   Centralised Security Management...................................................................................................... 4
Future Plans ............................................................................................................................................ 5
   CCN Contract Replacement................................................................................................................. 5
   Improving Quality of the Current Network ......................................................................................... 5
   Central Hosting v2 ............................................................................................................................... 5
What schools can do now! ...................................................................................................................... 6
   Caching ................................................................................................................................................ 6
   Microsoft Updates .............................................................................................................................. 6
   Other important updates .................................................................................................................... 6
   User Education .................................................................................................................................... 7
Closing Comments .................................................................................................................................. 7
Where do I go from here?....................................................................................................................... 8
About this document
A number of schools are becoming concerned about the bandwidth available to them in school; this
document has been written to help understand a number of areas:

     1. Current situation. and where schools are in relation to the whole of the County Council
        network (CCN – Cambridgeshire Community Network)
     2. Future Plans. What is happening with CCN and are there plans for more flexible access to
        bandwidth?
     3. What schools can do now. What can schools do right now to ensure the efficient use of
        available bandwidth for management, teaching and learning?
     4. Other Options. There are other things schools may wish to consider; this section helps to
        highlight at least some areas.


Summary
If you do not feel inclined to read through the whole of this document, the following is a list of dos
and don’ts which you may find useful to communicate to your ICT Teams, and to your teaching staff:

DO                                                    DON’T

                                                      Have PCs set to download updates individually - point
Ensure all PCs have the right proxy settings
                                                      them to server

Ensure WSUS is set up on your fileserver, including
                                                      Run internet radio for personal listening
configuration to deal with Adobe products and Java

Have Protex download sites and content in advance     Run iPlayer for personal viewing

Ensure antivirus updates are managed from your        Download large items of software during busy times
fileserver                                            at school

Avoid downloading software during school hours
Current Situation
Schools in Cambridgeshire are on a countywide community network (Cambridgeshire Community
Network – CCN). This network interconnects not only schools, but also County and District Council
Offices, NHS, Police, and others, onto a large wide area network (WAN).

At the time of inception (2004), CCN was heralded as the UK’s most ambitious and inclusive
countywide broadband community network. It enabled us to move all our schools onto broadband
far more quickly than most shire counties could. The CCN contract runs for a total of eight years.

There are a number of benefits gained by being on this network:

Fully managed
CCN is a fully managed network service spanning the County of Cambridgeshire, with secure
managed gateways to partners such as the NHS, Regional Education networks (E2BN) and suppliers.

One to one connection
CCN provides a dedicated 2Mb/s (20? 10Mb/s for Secondary schools) connection. Compared with
commercial, or ADSL type connections where your connection is shared with 50 or more other
establishments/homes.

Connection to National Networks
For schools, we are also connected via E2BN into the National Education Network (NEN).

The NEN provides schools with a secure network through which a wide range of high quality
broadband services and learning content are delivered. The NEN is delivered exclusively through the
Regional Broadband Consortia.

Centralised Caching and Filtering
The system, provided by E2BN, the regional broadband consortium, provides local caching of
frequently used web pages, and also a sophisticated WWW filtering solution. You have this now,
Protex, with a local device in your school, which in turn interconnects with a central set of
Caching/Filtering servers. E2BN’s Protex filtering has been accredited by Becta (three times) as
exceeding the national standards required for UK schools.

Centralised Security Management
The onus of managing the security of data and devices in schools, county council offices etc is
centralised into a single ingress/egress point. This massively reduces costs, and ensures the
responsibility for maintaining security of the whole of CCN, and each individual school environment,
is removed from each individual school, thus freeing up the head teacher to concentrate on more
important areas of their work.
Future Plans
There are a number of pieces of work underway right now to ensure future operations are provided
with a stable, flexible computing environment.

CCN Contract Replacement
The contract for provision of an IT communications network for Cambridgeshire County Council (and
to a partial extent four Cambridgeshire District Councils) expires in April 2012. A procurement
exercise in conjunction with other Cambridgeshire partner organisations (the CPSN partnership) has
begun. The CPSN partnership has been formed to procure a flexible, capable and value for money
communications network that will support and enable their operations within the community.

Improving Quality of the Current Network
A technology called Quality of Service (QoS) is being implemented across parts of CCN. Education ICT
Service have pushed this as being fundamental to continued successful operation of various systems
including Central Hosting, Voice over IP and VideoConferencing.

Essentially Qos will help to ensure certain traffic types are prioritised on the CCN network. For
example, if your school is on Centrally Hosted MIS - this type of traffic can be more susceptible to
bandwidth congestion, and indeed congestion is more noticeable, than email, or WWW browsing.
We are working with partners to implement this technology which will help ensure that the
particularly time critical applications are given priority on the network.

Central Hosting v2
Central Hosting v2 is built on newer Microsoft technologies which make more efficient use of
modern computing hardware and support a greater number of concurrent users. We are also
designing this system to be more resilient, and more flexible for schools following feedback on the
current system.
What schools can do now!
It is quite logical, when told that “…you’re using all of your available bandwidth..” to jump to the
conclusion that the best option would be to increase that bandwidth. Whilst this may indeed be the
case, there are still some important operational processes that schools need to consider before
going down the frequently expensive route of purchasing additional bandwidth.

Even if you did upgrade and increase your bandwidth, it is highly likely all you will be doing is
pushing the inevitable congestion a little way down the road. The first thing schools, and particularly
IT Administrators/Managers in schools, need to do, is to ensure that, during the school working day,
the school's connection is kept "free" for School Management, teaching and learning. We’re talking
about ICT operations management and User Education. The following sections summarise some of
the things schools can do to ensure their CCN connection is kept available for management, teaching
and learning.

Caching
We’ve already mentioned that the Protex filtering/caching solution is now available in the majority
of Cambridgeshire schools. If this device is in place, it is important that your IT support staff ensure
all of your client devices are configured to use the correct, relevant proxy settings within Internet
Explorer (or your chosen browser) - i.e.:

                   User Level     Proxy Setting
                   Staff          http://proxy.cambsed.net/staff.pac
                   Secondary      http://proxy.cambsed.net/secondary.pac
                   Middle         http://proxy.cambsed.net/middle.pac
                   Primary        http://proxy.cambsed.net/primary.pac


This setting will ensure that if you have a local Protex device, you can be sure all devices are using it.

Microsoft Updates
All Windows devices need to be regularly updated with Security fixes from Microsoft. It is important
to ensure these updates are managed in such a way that it is only your local School server that goes
out to the Internet (overnight) to pick up Microsoft Updates. This can be done on your server, using
a free product from Microsoft called WSUS. Essentially the server takes care of downloading all the
relevant updates, and then your PCs etc pick them up from the local server. Without implementing
this solution, each PC will visit the Microsoft site on a weekly basis and download often large files;
this could well be during the working day and can seriously slow down the performance of your
school network.

Other important updates
Other software vendors, for example Adobe, and others such as Sun (Java) regularly update their
software. Although WSUS cannot natively support updating of this software, there are configuration
changes that can be made to ensure they do not automatically update; your server can also then be
used to deliver updates on a managed basis to your client PCs.

           We are also investigating options for adding in more sophisticated methods
           for updating 3rd party products.
User Education
Perhaps the most important area that needs addressing is that of staff and student education.
Because we are all on a community network, it’s easy to think there is an inexhaustible supply of
bandwidth; the Internet is our oyster. When you think about this, it’s relatively easy to understand
how easily that CCN link can be “used up”. Some examples here:



    1. Make Staff/Students aware of the impact of downloading or streaming audio or video. In
       our experience many schools are not aware that, for example, 4 users running BBC iPlayer
       will completely use up all of the available bandwidth in a Primary school. The same goes for
       audio in that streaming audio content for a number of users can also impact on lessons and
       school operations.
    2. Downloading large files. Again, these files could be video or audio files, or software
       downloads or updates. If you have information like this that needs downloading for, say, a
       lesson; for example a history lesson with content from the BBC, you can arrange for your
       Protex system to be configured to download the relevant content overnight, before your
       lesson. This way, when teachers and students want to access the content – say, the whole
       ICT suite of 20 PCs simultaneously – they will be able to fetch the content locally from their
       Protex system. There are no changes to the way people use the Internet, you still go to the
       bbc.co.uk website; it’s simply that, with the proxy settings correct as per this section of this
       advice document, your browser is told to look first at the local Protex system for web pages.
       If you have software to download, arrange with your ICT technician to use a download
       manager to schedule the download outside of busy times.

          Be aware that some download managers can contain adware and spyware;
          ensure you ask your ICT technician for advice.


    3. Technician Awareness. Request that your technician does not download any large files
       during the school day. There may occasionally be urgent requirements for downloads to
       take place; where possible these should be kept to a minimum.


Closing Comments
There are a number of areas schools can investigate to improve the efficiency of their available
bandwidth. An upgrade is certainly one option, and we can request quotes for this work. It is
important to remember:

       Money spent now on upgrading bandwidth may be lost due to CCN replacement in 2012.
       User education is key
       Carry out unnecessary downloads, or software/operating system updates outside normal
        working hours.
Where do I go from here?
ICT Service can help with any queries you may have about this document. Please log your request via
the usual channels, preferably via email, giving as much information as possible, to
helpdesk@ict.cambsed.net

Please note that whilst advice and guidance is provided free of charge, we do reserve the right to
make charges for technical consultancy work to implement systems in schools.

				
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