Computer systems receive upgrades

Sami Pathan

During the past summer, the computer systems of CPS underwent major changes to upgrade the outdated hardware for increased speeds and functionality. The first portion of bond funds became available for use during the summer and the district has been working since then to implement numerous changes.
In an email interview with David Kessler, CPS manager of network infrastructure, the district used some of the money to buy 300 new computers as well as new servers, high-speed switches and a new network storage system.
“The basic changes result in increased file storage, faster login times and Internet speeds, and less restrictions on the firewall,” Kessler said. “In addition, throughout the year we will be developing deployable applications and a district image that will work on any/all CPS-owned equipment.”
This means that the maintenance of district machines will be more efficient and also increase the availability of laptops to students and faculty. But perhaps the most drastic change was the new district Microsoft license agreement allowing access to the latest versions of Microsoft software. Under the agreement, the district was able to move its file servers from Novell to Active Directory.
“The main goals of changing to Active Directory [the new login system] were fast logins and fast Internet access,” Kessler said. “But there is still a list of items to be completed, and we continue to work on that list while maintaining all other current services.”
However, not all the changes the district was hoping to make have gone as planned. Because of some hardware issues at the start of summer, many of the file servers were installed late, also affected by the start of the school year.
“We planned to start the build process for Active Directory and the file servers in late May and early June, but problems with server hardware prevented us from beginning until late June and July instead,” Kessler said. “Because of the priorities associated with the start of school, much of our time [was instead] used to create and refine student accounts.”
Along with the computer changes, the district also lowered some of the Internet restrictions for students, making their Internet access equal to that of a teacher. Kessler said the new one-filter-for-all approach will improve Internet speed.
“I didn’t realize they were going to totally open it up,” media center specialist Dennis Murphy said. “I mean, I think students have access to all those kinds of things outside of school, so it’s really Rock Bridge’s concept of freedom with responsibility.”
Voter approved bonds funded the costs of updating the different necessary parts. The capital equipment costs for the district network upgrades including supplies, servers, netwrok switches and computers was approximately $1.25 million. However, Kessler believes the costs are worth it for the better performance for all users district-wide.
“The upgrade of switches across the district in conjunction with the new computers and latest versions of software should result in much faster logins and Internet speeds. This will now allow us to integrate new technologies more readily into our network systems,” Kessler said. “Our hope is that will be beneficial to everyone involved.”
By Sami Pathan