• Waingels College - Education IT infrastructure challenges

Probrand

Probrand was able to source replacement technology and IT infrastructure at the lowest possible price by utilising the buying power of our digital marketplace.

The Customer

Waingels College is a school in Woodley, Reading with more than 1400 students aged 11-19. In 2011, the college underwent a £31m redevelopment. One element of this project included an exclusive IT deal with RM Education, which was signed on behalf of the school by the local education authority. The arrangement included the installation of core IT infrastructure and a five year support service contract. The school converted to academy status in July 2015.

The Challenge

Waingels College’s IT infrastructure and support service contract had become a major source of frustration for the school. The vendor had installed its own proprietary technology in the school, and any attempt to update the network required lengthy and complicated negotiations.  The school could not make changes itself.

The school wanted to replace this infrastructure with a platform more familiar with IT technicians across the wider business environment to make it easier to recruit staff and make network changes more quickly and easily.

John O’Keefe, business manager at Waingels, said: “We needed to do things differently, it was no longer acceptable for us to wait for changes to be made for us.  This was impacting on student learning as changes were taking too long.  Put simply, education is a fast moving environment and our infrastructure could no longer keep pace.”

With the service contract coming up for renewal, and the school’s hardware infrastructure due to be refreshed, Waingels also wanted to explore whether there was a more economical alternative to the existing arrangement.

John added: “We felt that for the level of support we received, the costs were astronomical. We wanted to work with an organisation that wasn’t just more tech savvy but could also help us lower our costs.”   

The Solution

Waingels spoke to several IT service companies before partnering with Probrand. After a planning period prior to the school’s summer vacation, project work began in July to replace its IT infrastructure. All the work had to be completed and the network fully functional when students returned in September, with arrangements made to accommodate GCSE and A-level exam results days in August.

Installation work included:

  • New core network infrastructure
  • New server and storage infrastructure
  • Migration of several systems including cashless catering, SIMS (Management Information System), CCTV, RM Curriculum Software Suite, site-wide Juniper wireless solution, and Apple learning suites
  • Implementation of a new remote access solution, enabling staff and students to gain access to the school network from home
  • Deployment of network management tools via the Impero Software Suite
  • Re-imaging of client PC and notebook hardware

Probrand was able to source replacement technology at the lowest possible price by utilising the buying power of Probrand’s innovative digital marketplace.  As a result Probrand secured exclusive education pricing direct from vendors for the benefit of Waingels.

As well as replacing the IT infrastructure, Waingels also ended its support service contract with RM Education. It has now recruited its own network manager and two technicians supported by Probrand’s proactive telephone, remote and on-site IT support service.

The Benefits

 

The school’s new infrastructure was installed over the summer without any interruption to school life. As a result of introducing this new infrastructure, the school has experienced a number of additional benefits including a faster network, flexible working arrangements and significant cost savings.

Smooth transition

The completion of the IT infrastructure project without any impact on term time came as a huge relief to the school. John said: “If we were not fully up and running in September, or if we couldn’t download the exam results in August, the consequences would have been unthinkable – but this was never a concern due to the skill of Probrand’s engineers.

“Even when we needed to bolt-on a number of systems to the network, such as wireless connectivity or cashless catering, nothing was ever a problem. This is where Probrand’s knowledge of the vendor market proved invaluable – if there was a complication, they always knew who to contact to get the answer.”

Cost savings

The huge cost savings that Waingels have been able to achieve by taking control of their own IT management has also been a headline achievement for the project.

“We will save about £90,000 in the first year because of this transition,” said John. “I believe this is because Probrand saw our requirements in a more straightforward, sensible way. This has enabled us to save money, and with such a quick return on investment, appointing Probrand as our preferred partner was a no-brainer.”

A better network

Crucially for the school, the IT network is now providing significantly improved performance compared to the previous infrastructure.

John said: “The new network is noticeably faster, and the remote product is far superior! Log-on times are now much quicker – and, when you often have 400 users all logging in within a couple of minutes at the start of lessons, this makes a big difference. The old network was clunky and prompted a lot of complaints. Since we moved to the new network, however, I’ve not had a whisper of a moan – which is all you can ask for really!”