Wireless has been available in the district for several years. Currently all buildings have wireless service available on the wireless network called:VCLOUD. VCLOUD provides basic Internet access in an non-secure configuration. There is no signal encryption so the network is not considered secure. Since we expose no internal services other than printing at VHS library, VCLOUD does not compromise our internal network security. We do control access VCLOUD through MAC address authorization. Users must contact us and provide use with the MAC address identifier of their wireless network card. This is the simplest method for controlling access but is not considered a enterprise level method due to cumbersome nature of managing users and potential of “spoofing” MAC addresses. We have approximately 200 registered wireless users with most residing at VHS.
We have created an experimental secure wireless network at McMurray called MCLOUD that is used by several staff members. This is a encrypted network that requires a secure certificate to gain access. MCLOUD does allow access to internal resources.
VCLOUD uses commodity wireless access points much like those one would purchase for home use. This level of hardware has been adequate for our foray into wireless since it is cheap and easy to deploy.
We envision expanding wireless services to include secure connection on two wireless networks, one for students and one for staff. Each network would employ encryption and an authentication scheme for user access. Access would be controlled via the industry standard “radius authentication”. We plan to continue using commodity level wireless access points that with open source firmware upgrades that will improve the functionality of the system.
|Hardware||What it does||Cost||Number||Duration 3 years|
|Access Points||Wireless endpoints/radios/transmitters||$4,000||50|
|Wiring Upgrades||Connection to backbone||$4,000||N/A|
|POE Switches||Power Over Ethernet→ eliminates power transformer for each unit||$8,000||4|
|Radius Server||Controls authentication||$4,000||2|
We see wireless as an important part of technology integration process primarily because of its flexibility. As more and more students bring wireless devices to school, ready access to the Internet and network resources will be important within the classroom and in other common areas. Allowing controlled student access with personal wireless devices will also reduce the burden on the district to provide and support hardware.
We continue to believe that our approach using commodity devices is sound and cost-effective option. A “enterprise level” option would be more full featured but far more costly and would be perhaps more than we need.</columns>