Tech Director Report

Date: October 21st, 2014
To: Michael Green
From: Steve Rippl
Subject: Tech Dept. Executive Summary


It was a very smooth start to the year for us in Tech! Over the summer we had done our usual round of hardware and software upgrades along with some new equipment, but nothing too radical. The most standout piece was the transition to Microsoft’s System Center for our image and application deployment and virus protection on our Windows client computers (staff machines and some student). This could have caused us problems but Steve Brown did an excellent job of testing everything in advance and rolling things out carefully. So September was eerily quiet from a helpdesk standpoint as folks just got on with using their technology. Our bandwidth usage is much higher this time of year than normally so I think people really have dived right in!

That’s not to say we haven’t been busy. Our expansion of mobile devices, both iPad and Chromebooks, has had us learning new management techniques, although to be honest most of the time and effort has had to go into the iPad side of things. The Chromebooks fit very easily into our existing Google Apps infrastructure and require very little effort to deploy and practically none to maintain. On the iPad side we’ve had to lay hands on every device updating certificates for the management software (which at the moment looks like a yearly event), but we are at least now able to deploy apps remotely (most of the time!). Also, Google is building an intriguing bridge between their education focused apps/books store, Android and Chromebooks that we’ll be investigating a bit in the next few months with some teachers from the Middle School.

To support our expanding pool of mobile devices, and a future phone upgrade, we undertook the new cabling project. Christenson have now just about finished, the work is done but I haven’t seen test results yet and they still have our key! While I had one or two reasons to grumble I think overall the work has been very good. We now have good quality ports in all rooms for computers and phones, and on the ceilings down corridors for wireless access points. Travis has already been out installing the WAPs, so our wireless coverage is now approaching District wide. Monitoring this and keeping it healthy as usage increases isn’t trivial, but we are watching and planning accordingly.

We’ve also been very busy with finalizing tech plans for the new high school, and actually transitioning to implementation as we order equipment already. Skanska will be taking wireless access points and projectors from us soon to install. Our mission this year is to stay ahead of the curve and plan well in advance as the prospect of “the great transition” this summer is somewhat daunting from a logistical point of view, nothing that can’t be managed though.