Education networks fill as students receive laptops

The NSW Department of Education and Training (DET) networks are almost at capacity.

That is, they would be if it wasn’t for a $70 million deal with Telstra that will double its bandwidth this year.

The DET will soon double its two 1 Gigabit connections to four links between the DET and the Internet, as monthly download levels top 100 terabytes (TB) per month and are set to exceed 200Tb by year’s end.

Chief information officer, Stephen Wilson, said traffic levels surged from 30TB to 60TB per month over four months last year, following the rollout of 66,000 laptops to teachers and year nine students under the Federal Government’s $2.2 billion Digital Education Revolution initiative.

“We expected to run out of capacity and indeed that is the case… this is explosive growth by any means and we have only just started the rollout [of laptops for students],” Wilson said at a Sydney conference.

He said schools ran all applications internally when he began his tenure four years ago, requiring DET staff to download and collate data from servers each week.

Wilson aims to have the thousands of Lenovo student laptops to run like “electricity, so they can turn them on and go”.

But like electricity, laptops can fail and explode — albeit from neglect. Wilson has heard of computers that have been thrown out of a bus window, run over by vehicles, thrown into a dam and even accidentally destroyed by teachers.

“We are doing this early. It would have been done in 10 years time but we are doing it now,” he said.

Wilson said he expects the laptop program to receive funds after the program expires, even in the event of a change in Federal Government.

“The voters of NSW will not put up with this program ending in four years,” Wilson said.

“It is unstoppable. I put my faith in the fact that commonsense will prevail and somewhere, somehow funds will be delivered.”

DET number-crunching

  • 1.3 million students — 500,000 K-12 students, 800,000 in further education
  • 96,000 employees, including 5500 IT staff
  • 500 support staff at schools for the Digital Education Revolution.
  • 2411 locations
  • 280,000 PCs,
  • 7000 physical servers on site at schools and TAFEs
  • 3500 virtual servers on site at schools and TAFEs
  • 1560 virtual servers in the DET’s two data centres
  • 800 physical servers in the DET’s two data centres
  • 280TB of storage space which doubles every year for last five years.
  • 96 per cent of DET schools are connected by fibre.
  • Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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