And so it begins again. Students return on Monday. Our teachers were back last Monday. The summer is over and we’re getting back to the business of educating kids.
Not that summer has been a vacation for me. I’ve long ago left the cycle of having summers off. In fact, summer is typically my busiest time as we try to do upgrades on our systems. This summer was particularly busy because we tried to change/upgrade just about every technology system we have. It’s been a crazy time with late evenings, working on days that I would normally have off, and trying to conduct a three ring circus of vendors working on frantic deadlines to get everything ready before August 15.
Here’s a list of our projects this summer…
- Connect almost all of our schools with direct high-speed fiber optic, replacing leased AT&T data lines
- Replace switching infrastructure at our district office and two of our schools (others to follow next year)
- Completely re-cable and replace switching infrastructure at another one of our schools
- Replace phone systems at two schools (as well as riding herd on phone problems at two others)
- Replace/upgrade every server in the district
- Convert the district’s e-mail system to Gmail and Google Apps
- Create a new data center for district office servers
- Virtualize all district servers
- Upgrade food service systems
- Upgrade Destiny library systems
- Upgrade PowerSchool student information systems
- Replace 500+ computers throughout the district
- Add light wifi overlay for all schools in the district
- Set up Microsoft Active Directory in preparation for conversion to Novell
…and that’s just a partial list. Some of these, such as the wifi overlay, cabling, and systems upgrades have been delayed and won’t be ready by Monday, which has me frustrated, but shouldn’t be too much of a hindrance to our opening.
And with change comes confusion and questions by end users. I’ve spent LOTS of time this summer resetting e-mail passwords, helping folks get into the system for the first time, and easing the transition to Gmail. We’re going to have to do lots of training this fall to ease folks into this.
Later this fall we will be moving our schools from Novell to Active Directory. We will also be re-imaging all of our machines so that they are running Windows 7. We’re also upgrading and changing our entire website. Eventually we will be replacing all switching in the district and recabling another school, as well as changing out phone systems. To say that we’re changing everything would not be an understatement.
Last fall we did an in-depth evaluation of our systems, and these upgrades are the results of that study. The demand for wireless has been driving some of this, as we bring in more iPads and mobile devices, we have to have coverage in our schools. This demand has really just popped up in the last couple of years. The current upgrades are going to take about that long by the time we’re done, and who knows what new system demands will replace them by that time.
Of course, by that time, I’m hoping to be retired from the district. This last summer upgrade season has just about done me in. Laura was gone for nearly an entire month with her mom, and I didn’t get to go out to Washington with her this time. I’ve been able to get away for a Saturday paddling trip now and then, but haven’t had a vacation at all. I’m thinking that perhaps next winter some tropical locale is going to be on the horizon. We’ll see.