Schools all over the country are getting on the technology bandwagon, bringing tablets into the classrooms and incorporating them into lesson plans. The devices are often used to access online resources, and educators have come to rely on these resources as much as the textbooks of our youth.
Whether schools are looking to strengthen their wireless infrastructure, upgrade to a higher-speed Internet connection, or move to a 1:1 computing environment, it’s important to talk about where the IT equipment needed to deliver those services will be stored, and how best to keep it all up and running in the event of a power disruption.
“IT equipment is a very valuable asset, and by valuable I’m referring to not just how much it costs, although that is certainly significant, but also how important it is to the teaching and learning that goes on in schools every day. If you spend tens or hundreds of thousands of Rands on IT gear that is crucial to the educational experience, it makes sense to spend a little more on some proper racks, power and cooling products to protect it,” says Riaan de Leeuw, Vice President, Schneider Electric ITD Anglophone Africa.
As schools upgrade the switches or routers supporting their wireless infrastructure, they need to ensure that they are connected to an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). A UPS provides backup power that enables the devices to stay connected even during a power disturbance or outage. Just as important, they also provide “clean” power, taking care of any power surges, spikes, or sags and such, which can damage sensitive IT equipment.
“If that power supply goes down, teachers would be left scrambling to substitute another plan for the day’s lesson,” he says.
Similarly, most schools have certain applications that need to be online all the time, such as the security tools that ensure safety on the Web, and enable administrators to ensure students aren’t surfing where they shouldn’t be.
“Weather-related power disruptions can also wreak serious havoc on IT gear if it’s not properly protected, and that kind of physical damage has expensive implications. Devices such as routers that provide Internet connections draw relatively little power, so it’s entirely feasible to install a UPS that will power them for multiple hours,” says de Leeuw.
School should also have at least one IT rack to properly house the routers, switches, storage units, servers and other IT gear. Stacking such equipment on shelves in a storage closet is risky because it doesn’t offer the ventilation the equipment needs nor the physical security it requires.
In situations where space is at a premium, and there’s no room for a proper server room or wiring closet, a purpose-built enclosure may make sense. APC by Schneider Electric, the global specialists in energy management and automation, offer enclosures that are made to be installed in non-dedicated spaces, such as a classroom or administrative office.
“These solutions enable schools to house everything they need in an attractive enclosure that looks like another piece of furniture. But they are lockable, providing the security that IT gear requires, virtually soundproof, come in various sizes, and include fans for self-ventilation,” he explains.
“Schneider electric offer a number of solutions to drive the 21st-century classroom. And, by budgeting a bit more for power protection, racks or enclosures, schools are in a better position to ensure their classrooms remain online, even in the face of power disruptions.”