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Northwood School

Complete IT Solution

In 2016, Northwood School moved into a brand new building on its north London campus – and wanted a cutting edge IT infrastructure to match. Our challenge was to deliver a high-quality, reliable IT system to a stringent budget, in a very tight time frame.

 

Breaking new ground

“Our new school was a £35m project,” explains Andy Lovesey, Deputy Head, QE Trust, which works with Northwood School. “Our need for an IT system was twofold: we wanted to develop how IT is integrated into teaching and learning, and our students’ level of engagement through using it.

From day one, Blue Sky Systems were exceptionally professional. They came in and worked with us to develop the type of infrastructure we wanted.

“Crucially, they delivered on their promises on time and saved the school 15% on capital expenditure and with the "simple to support system" there is a lower need to employ another member of staff.”

Equipping a 21st century school

We helped to design the network from scratch, installing everything from desktop PCs and interactive whiteboards to wireless access points, servers, networking and cabling.

The screens themselves have thick glass as hard as sapphire, making them almost indestructible. And we even included spill-proof keyboards in the budget, which are so resilient you can actually pour liquid through them and they’ll carry on working.

We installed virtual desktops, with our own, hyper-converged hosting platform behind them, making it really easy to add more capacity and upgrade seamlessly as the school grows. Highly cost-effective, they give students and teachers access to the software they need from a central server, without it having to be installed and updated on every single machine.

Complete network

We opted for a 10Zig Zero thin client-based system, to cut down on the huge amount of engineering resource normally needed for standard desktops using SCCM, MDT and similar bulk deployment tools. 10Zig are a massive manufacturer to us, supporting and maintaining our SLAs.

Highly cost-effective, virtual desktops give students and teachers access to the software they need from a central server, without it having to be installed and updated on every single machine.

Thin clients also help the IT engineering resource support the end users rather than having to maintain the entire IT system. And we used Aruba to back our engineering for the wireless system, because they offer the capability and ever-increasing bandwidth needed for today’s classrooms.

Delivering our promises

Jonathan Bastin, Technical Director, Blue Sky Systems, said, “Blue Sky Systems is all about technical ability and quality of delivery, meeting our timescales, and making sure we deliver what we set out to achieve. At Northwood, we deployed the entire system, which included 55 projectors, 87 wireless access points, and 320 machines, in just nine days.

“This combination of equipment was all designed to make things simple for the Northwood, saving time and money with a high-spec yet durable system that can handle the usual wear and tear of school life.”

Future-proof

Over the next five years Northwood is set to grow dramatically, with student numbers planned to rise from 450 to 1,100 students in the new building. So we’ve future-proofed their IT system, making it simple to add extra kit, just by plugging it in and pressing ‘go’.

It’s a solution that’s worked wonders for Northwood School. And it all came down to understanding what the client needed and having the technical skills and capability to get on with it, quickly and effectively.