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Laptop infrastructureupgrade
 

Laptop infrastructureupgrade

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    Laptop infrastructureupgrade Laptop infrastructureupgrade Document Transcript

    • Teacher Laptop and General Infrastructure Upgrade at St. Thomas Aquinas Regional School An Analysis, by Matt Hollingsworth, Technology Coordinator Introduction Technology at St. Thomas Aquinas Regional School is an integral part of the day-to- day operations for teachers, students and staff members. Unfortunately, in recent months the level of quality technology has declined. As advances in software technology have made learning experiences better, lack of proper hardware to run the software correctly has resulted in decreased productivity for teachers and staff. Upgrading the teachers’ computers and the general networking infrastructure in the school will help restore productivity and provide a solid foundation for learning in the years to come. The Current State of Teachers’ Technology The laptops currently in use by the teachers are woefully inadequate. The technology in use in these machines is tremendously outdated. The Pentium 4 processor line has been discontinued for several years, replaced by 5 new processor “generations” since the teachers’ models were in production. The laptops were, at the time or production, not even the top of line in their time. Additionally, the RAM installed in the machines is almost at capacity when in use, and the hard drive installed is nearing capacity on all of the machines. These problems are compounded given the trend of ever-increasing minimum requirements in new software. The network card is maxed out at a 100 Mb connection. Many of the CD-ROM drives are beginning to fail, and some laptops do not even have DVD drives installed, meaning that some software cannot even be installed. Additionally, the batteries in the machines are so old they have simply run out of charges. The laptops no longer function on battery power. The need to be plugged in at all times, essentially behaving like desktops. Teachers are often unwilling to take the laptops home, since they will not only take upward of 30 minutes to load, they also require a constant power source. The whole point of having portable laptops for teachers is now defeated. Ultimately, this combination of lack of space, obsolete processing ability, and lack of expandability are resulting in a lack of production for the teachers. Log in times are long, resulting in teachers coming in early simply to boot up on time for class. Program load times are slow, often exceeding 10 minutes for email and internet. Simultaneously run programs (ActivBoard software and Internet Explorer, for example) cause overloads and complete freezes in the system. The Current State of the Network Infrastructure The state of the network infrastructure in the building is not as dire as the teachers’ situation is. Currently, all network connections are wired 100 Mb/s (megabit per second) connections. This is causing two problems: lack of mobility and
    • bottlenecking. The bottleneck issue usually arises in the morning, when all teachers and staff begin logging in to the servers. Since ALL connections top out at 100 Mb/s, data is not streamed to the teachers as quickly as it could be. Additionally, the lab computers face the same problem. When all of the students log on to the internet, for example, there is delay in access for several students while the system can “catch up” with all of the requests. This results in lost time while students wait up to 5 minutes for a web page to show up. Additionally, the school is limited to the wired connections in place. While necessary, they are not completely inclusive. For example, the Hall (gym) is often used for presentations such as Back to School Night, middle school Households, CYM events, sports tournaments, and other similar events. Computers are used to run Powerpoint presentations, videos, reports, etc. While power outlets are readily available, network ports are not. Due to the lack of wireless internet technology, the computers are shoved into a corner where a cable can be run through the hallway into a classroom to pick up internet signals. Alternatively, the presentation is burned to a CD or DVD to use in place of a live wired connection. All network and printer cables must be brought in separately, and run to the nearest available ports, occasionally interfering with the event at hand. What is Necessary for the Teachers The teachers at St. Thomas Aquinas Regional School need new laptops. The laptops currently in use were donated 5 years ago. They were at least 2 years old at that point, resulting in a 7-year life span. This is far beyond the generally accepted/expected lifespan of 3-5 years. The new laptops purchased must be able to be comparable, and have enough power, drive space, expandability, and features to last approximately 5 years. The primary concern in purchasing laptops for a 5-year life is the CPU. The RAM and hard drive space can expanded with relatively little expense ($100-$150 per unit, on average, to double both). However, a laptop’s processor cannot be replaced. Therefore, purchase a laptop with the fastest, most robust processor available is the best way to assure that in 5 years, the laptops will still function adequately with current software. An extra increase in price for a processor upgrade very well could be the difference between 3 years of adequate use versus 5. All of the computers should be equipped with other hardware necessary for the next 5 years. They should have working DVD drives, gigabit network capabilities, and plenty of RAM and disk space. They also need external VGA video ports to run the ActivBoard projectors. The screen resolution needs to be large enough to meet all software requirements, as well as power the ActivBoard projectors properly. The battery life should be rated high, and the battery itself should be a common model so that replacing it in the future is still possible. What is Necessary for the Infrastructure With faster teacher computers, the major problem then becomes the lack of bandwidth on the network. Replacing the current 100 Mb/s network hubs and switches with Gb connection (gigabit, equivalent to 1000 Mb/s transfer rate) will result in a literal 10 times increase in network speed and bandwidth. This means
    • faster login times for teachers, less down time in the lab and in the classroom, increased productivity for staff members, and a generally quicker response for all systems in the school. Additionally, a controlled wireless network will allow unrestricted mobility for such events. Computers streaming video, for example, can be place in a spot most conducive to seeing the video, for example, instead of the only available spot where connectivity can be reached. OK, Great. But What Does it Cost? As stated, each teacher laptop unit would cost approximately $800 for the best balance of longevity versus savings. But before we can assign a final price tag, we need to know how many are due for upgrade. Also, to achieve the goal of school-wide gigabit networking, we need to make sure that all hubs and switches in the building are converted to this speed. Leaving one router, hub or switch at 100MB/s causes every computer downstream to run at that speed. We need to ascertain how many switches, and how many ports per switch, are needed. Additionally, to achieve wireless connectivity, we need to know several things. First of all, a range of wirelessly-covered spaces needs to be determined. The Hall is obviously the primary target, but also the main office, lobby, and teachers lounge are candidates for inclusion. Counting Units Currently, 18 teachers and staff use laptops, and will continue to do so. The number was originally 21, but 5 laptops have died in the last year, and the two extras have been used. That number needs to be maintained, and the number of laptops restored to the initial intent and design of the school. Also, some staff members may benefit from having laptops where in the past they did not. Furthermore, some staff members simply do not need them. Here is a breakdown, by job position, of the computer distribution in the school: Principal Currently uses Laptop Assistant Principal Currently uses Desktop (will remain) Admissions Officer/Administrative Assistant Currently uses Desktop (will remain) Bookkeeper Currently uses Desktop (will remain) Administrative Assistant Currently uses Desktop (will remain) Director of Development Currently uses Desktop (will remain) Receptionist Currently uses Desktop (will remain) Technology Coordinator Currently uses Desktop (laptop preferred) Computer Lab Aide Currently uses Laptop Extended Day Director Currently uses Desktop (will remain) Assistant Extended Day Director Currently uses Desktop (will remain)
    • Title 1 Teacher Currently uses Desktop (will remain) Resource Currently use Desktops (will remain) Guidance Counselors Currently use Desktops (will remain) Nurses Currently uses Desktop (will remain) Hot Lunch Coordinator/Aide, Grade 5 Currently uses Desktop (will remain) Pre-K Teacher Used to have laptop, currently uses Desktop (laptop preferred) K1 Currently uses Laptop K1 Used to have laptop, currently uses Desktop (laptop preferred) 1A Currently uses Laptop 1B Currently uses Laptop 2A Currently uses Laptop 2B Currently uses Laptop 3A Currently uses Laptop 3B Currently uses Laptop 4A Currently uses Laptop 4B Currently uses Laptop 5A Currently uses Laptop 5B Currently uses Laptop 6A Currently uses Laptop 6B Used to have laptop, currently uses Desktop (laptop preferred) 7A Currently uses Laptop 7B Currently uses Laptop 8A Currently uses Laptop 8B Currently uses Laptop Spanish, 6-8 Currently uses Desktop (laptop preferred) Spanish, 1-5 No computer (laptop preferred) Art Currently uses Desktop (laptop preferred) Music Currently uses Desktop (laptop preferred) P.E. Currently uses Laptop Librarian Currently uses Desktop (will remain) Science Lab Currently uses Desktop (laptop preferred) Aide, K1 No computer Aide, K2 No computer Aide, 1A No computer Aide, 1B No computer Aide, Grade 2 No computer Aide, Grade 3 No computer Aide, Grade 4 No computer Ideally, the Technology Coordinator, Spanish, Art, Music, Science Lab teachers will gain laptops, while all other teachers who previously have used laptops will be able to keep them, while at the same time having two or three units in reserve in case of hardware failure. The total number of laptops needed would then be 30 (27 in use, 3 on reserve). To maintain the absolute minimum number, with no backups, would require 22 new units.
    • In order for a laptop to meet the specifications stated above, we cannot purchase models on the least expensive tier. To cross the threshold into truly long-lasting processors, with all other capabilities present, will cost in the $800 to $900 range. As laptop models are constantly in flux, we cannot pinpoint any one model at this time, but this price range has been the norm for several years. The total cost for new teacher laptops, assuming $800-$900 per unit, comes out to between $17,600 minimum and $27,000 maximum. Here is a breakdown of the current network hardware distribution in the building. All of these units are 100 Mb/s or slower connections. Description Location Quantity Price 24-port switch Server room 6 $175-$300 5-port hub Server room 1 $50-$60 5-port switch Lab 8 $50-$60 24-port switch/hub Phone room/office 1 $175-$300 24-port switch/hub Extended Day Closet 1 $175-$300 5-port switch 3A 1 $50-$60 The prices listed are average current prices. This is, again, a generally stable range. The lowest estimate to replace everything is $2,775. The highest is $4,680. More than likely, the actual price will be in the low $3,000’s. To achieve wireless capabilities in the Hall, office, and lobby, between 4 and 6 wireless routers need to be purchased. They cost approximately $50 a unit, resulting in a $200 to $300 cost. The Bottom Line The maximum cost of these upgrades (highest quality, full quantity) is just under $32,000. At minimum, we can just get by with spending $20,575. The more that can be invested in high quality, durable, capable equipment now, the less frustration and obsolescence will result later from inferior equipment. A full, properly performed upgrade can set the tone for technological standards for half a decade, at least, and allow the school to serve as a model of technology implementation in the Diocese.
    • In order for a laptop to meet the specifications stated above, we cannot purchase models on the least expensive tier. To cross the threshold into truly long-lasting processors, with all other capabilities present, will cost in the $800 to $900 range. As laptop models are constantly in flux, we cannot pinpoint any one model at this time, but this price range has been the norm for several years. The total cost for new teacher laptops, assuming $800-$900 per unit, comes out to between $17,600 minimum and $27,000 maximum. Here is a breakdown of the current network hardware distribution in the building. All of these units are 100 Mb/s or slower connections. Description Location Quantity Price 24-port switch Server room 6 $175-$300 5-port hub Server room 1 $50-$60 5-port switch Lab 8 $50-$60 24-port switch/hub Phone room/office 1 $175-$300 24-port switch/hub Extended Day Closet 1 $175-$300 5-port switch 3A 1 $50-$60 The prices listed are average current prices. This is, again, a generally stable range. The lowest estimate to replace everything is $2,775. The highest is $4,680. More than likely, the actual price will be in the low $3,000’s. To achieve wireless capabilities in the Hall, office, and lobby, between 4 and 6 wireless routers need to be purchased. They cost approximately $50 a unit, resulting in a $200 to $300 cost. The Bottom Line The maximum cost of these upgrades (highest quality, full quantity) is just under $32,000. At minimum, we can just get by with spending $20,575. The more that can be invested in high quality, durable, capable equipment now, the less frustration and obsolescence will result later from inferior equipment. A full, properly performed upgrade can set the tone for technological standards for half a decade, at least, and allow the school to serve as a model of technology implementation in the Diocese.