Excelsior Academy

Excelsior Academy (EA) has over 1800 students and over 200 teachers

The Challenge

Excelsior Academy (EA) is one of the largest Academies in Newcastle upon Tyne with over 1800 students, over 200 teachers and Admin staff distributed over 150 offices, workshops, meeting rooms, and classrooms in a single building campus.

Gaia has been working with EA for over 8 years delivering a comprehensive Network Infrastructure Managed Service to this highly complex and demanding environment. Our services started with planning and network design and have extended through to the day-to-day delivery, operational management (including security), support and monitoring of the on premise local area network infrastructure (LAN) Including all its assets.

What We Did

The on-site Gaia Team ensures continuous availability of service, data and learner protection to the following:

  • 8 Physical Servers configured as VMWare and Microsoft Hyper-V virtualised environment.
  • 40 virtualised servers running Microsoft Windows 2012 O/S.
  • Enterprise Apps such as Financial (SAGE 200); School Management Information System; SQL Servers, SharePoint Portal; File and Print and Backup Servers.
  • Multiple redundant Storage Attached Network to hold the virtualised environment and permit redundancy.
  • Dual 6500 Cisco Core Network Chassis with over 120 Cisco Edge Switches.
  • Cisco WiSM Integrated Wireless Controller supporting up to 300 Cisco Access Points.
  • Cisco and SmoothWall Firewalls managing 1Gbps Internet line with ADSL backup.
  • Direct link connectivity to two primary schools.
  • Over 20 miles of fibre optic and category 5e cabling infrastructure and structured cabling connecting 6 separate hub rooms.
  • Cloud Services that integrate Office 365 and Google Apps for Education integrated with the School Active Directory.

The Outcome

All issues affecting the infrastructure are automatically reported to the onsite team as well as the Network Operations Centre (NOC) that oversee the performance and availability of systems at EA remotely to provide the 2nd as well as 3rd level support to incidents, changes and problem resolution.

The on-site team are responsible for:

  • Managing Users across the Active Directory, Office 365, and Google Apps.
  • Allocating devices in appropriate VLANs and updating Patch Panel Information Sheets.
  • Ensuring security for physical and remote access.
  • Reviewing Firewall and Internet Filtering Logs to verify appropriate control.
  • Performing backup reviews for Server and Data on site and online.
  • Reviewing UPS devices.
  • Secure Wi-Fi association to the network for users, guest (VLANs), school and BYOD devices.

The NOC at Gaia HQ is responsible for:

  • Network Performance Monitoring including proactive monitoring of device availability, performance, traffic, and other parameters.
  • Alerts management and escalation through the Gaia’s ITIL compliant ServiceDesk.
  • Monitoring CPU, Disk, Network Interfaces and Memory usage on servers and network devices.
  • Server and Network Configuration Management.
  • Managing internal (and public) IP Address (IPAM) space for the customer including AD integration, DNS name, MAC address, State, System Name, Device Type, and connected Switch Port.

We also manage all EA ICT assets with a set of processes for strategically tracking and managing the financial, licensing and contractual aspects through their life cycle.

EA like many Academies have had to reduce their overall ICT spend due to funding constraints and so Gaia have been proactive in introducing more rigour to the hardware and software acquisition process. This has also impacted lifecycle and disposal decisions with greater focus on identifying and eliminating unused or infrequently used assets. We also consolidated the software licenses (typically an Academy supports 100s software titles) and made recommendations to move to new SaaS, IaaS and BYOD models.

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