Rather than network speed, a big portion of file-serving performance is dependent on how fast a server’s drives can read and write its data,. So, if you use high-speed flash chips instead of spinning hard drives, things can move considerably faster, regardless of whether it's for a gradebook transaction or delivering video to students. That’s the idea behind StorTrends 3600i Family, which takes this concept a step farther with separate solid state hardware for reading and writing data. Available with write capacities of up to 2TB and read capacities of up to 1TB, the 3610i can push performance while only costing a little more than a traditional storage array.
Integrating all the different types of computers that show up every day at school is a hassle, but Aerohive’s ID Manager app can ease getting a bunch of different devices online. The software lets you set up the institution’s WiFi access points to quickly establish networking privileges on an iPad. All the user has to do is register. Everything is secure, the pad cannot stray from the arranged access areas and the networking privileges can be revoked at any time.
If you want your school’s wireless infrastructure to reach outside of its physical boundaries to an outdoor lunch area or a sports field, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Fortunately, Aerohive’s $1,400 AP 1130 uses the latest 802.11ac networking techniques to extend WiFi to where it’s needed. Able to support 512 DHCP or up to 256 Radius-authenticated clients, the AP 1130 has an Ethernet port and can be powered by its Cat 6 cabling. It can work and survive in rain, snow as well as temperatures that range from -50 to 100-degrees Fahrenheit.
After you’ve unwired your school with WiFi, the next step is keeping a tight grip on all those access points with a remote management controller. D-Link’s $2,700 DWC-2000 can track up to 256 APs on its own or over a thousand in a controller peer group, creating a self-organizing and self-perpetuating network by regularly scanning the devices and optimizing their performance. It can use Radius, LDAP, POP3 or Windows Active Directory techniques to authenticate clients, comes with a lifetime warranty and works with D-Link unified wireless products, like the DWL-2600, -3600, -6600, -8600 and -8610.
With Amped Wireless’s RTA1750 router, you don’t need to pack the school with access points because each device has six 800-milliwatt amplifiers and low noise filters so that it can reach farther than the competition. Based on 802.11ac technology, the $180 router can connect on both the 2.4- and 5GHz bands, has gigabit wired ports and a USB port.
Schools and district offices may be closed today for Thanksgiving, but when they reopen, the issue of how to distribute data throughout campuses remains an open question. In fact, school networking means more than WiFi and Amped Wireless’s G8SW makes wired connections easier and cheaper. The $40 8-port unmanaged switch can deliver gigabit per second speeds while reducing power demands. There’s also 16-port version for $100 and a $120 8-port switch that has four POE-enabled ports for delivering electricity to LAN devices.
If your school’s wireless LAN is bogging down, the Linksys E8350 can help with dual-band 4X4 operations that tops out at a theoretical 2.4GHz of bandwidth. The 802.11ac router can also run as an access point or wireless bridge, has four removable stubby antennas and can connect to clients on both 2.4- and 5GHz data channels. In addition to using beamforming techniques, the E8350 can be set up horizontally or vertically and provides access to both USB and eSATA ports. It costs $250.
The problem with network extenders is that it’s hard to tell what their up to without a connected computer to look over the status screens. With a touch-screen of its own, Amped Wireless’s TAP-EX can make pushing WiFi to all the nooks and crannies of a school simple because all of its set up and configuration can be done with its 3.5-inch color touch-screen. Inside is a powerful 800-milliwatt transmitter that receives and retransmits 2.4GHz WiFi data for compatibility with 802.11b, g and n devices; it doesn't work with newer 802.11ac’s 5GHz signals, though. The device even has a pair of Ethernet ports for wired devices and a USB slot for a printer or hard drive. It costs $120 and when it’s sitting idle, the TAP-EX’s display shows the day and time.
Like the Linksys WRT 1900AC router for its high-speed and long-range? You’ll love the matching WRT-8 wired switch. It not only has the same color and design as the wireless router, but the feet of the router fit into indentations in the switch so that the two can be stacked, making for a neat professional look. On the downside, due to heat issues, the router needs to sit on top of the switch.
In addition to eight wired gigabit ports on the back, the WRT-8 has a bank of LEDs up front that show that it’s turned on and which ports are active. Just like the WRT 1900AC, you can turn the lights off if you want a stealth network. The switch is unmanaged, but its ports are autosensing to optimize data flow and they automatically shut down if they’re not being used to save power. With built-in Quality of Service software, the WRT-8 can prioritize a LAN’s operations so that video can take precedence over slower-moving emails. It costs $70.
If you thought that having an 802.11ac router with three antennas was a good idea, then Netgear’s Nighthawk X4 is even better. Based on Quantenna’s 500MHz WiFi chipset, the new Nighthawk router can handle four independent streams of data over the 5- and 2.4GHz bands. It can move up to a theoretical peak of 2.3Gbps, but expect much less than that if you plan to continue using older gear. The router has an eSATA port for a hard drive as well as a pair of USB 3.0 connectors and four gigabit LAN ports. It will sell for $280.