What was the background?
The Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center is an alternative high school that caters to students who want to pursue their passions with a focus on real world learning through internships.
The Met, as it’s called, is its own school district; it’s made up of 6 small schools with a combined total of approximately 830 students. They currently have a mix of desktops, laptops, and BYOD units, but use Chromebooks as the primary method of computing which brings web filtering to the forefront of importance. The tech department is headed by John Anter, IT Director.
Stability was the number one issue, with up-time being critical to their deployment. “For me, it’s about the stability of a product and the up-time,” says John.
What was the problem?
Before Smoothwall, the Met was having issues with a product that was overly complicated for limited filtering functionality. “Web filtering policies were very unintuitive and time-consuming,” says John.
The Met also had issues getting visibility of their traffic and use patterns, with hiccups in service being commonplace. John says, “We had difficulty processing traffic and the box would choke, at times taking down our ISP connection.”
With filtering uptime being such a critical point, the Met knew they needed a new solution that would be able to handle their traffic and device loads, without an overly complicated set-up or maintenance.
How did Smoothwall help?
John received a referral to Smoothwall from an Admin at a school district in Providence, RI who had been running Smoothwall since its inception.
After taking a tour of the product, the Met decided that Unified Threat Management was the right solution for them. “The web filtering capability and the intuitiveness of interface was much better than our previous solution,” says John.
The Met has Unified Threat Management set up at 3 network entry points with filtering and firewall, as well as high availability redundancy in case there are ever any hardware failures.
Because they have a really high concentration of mobile devices, the Met has to keep a careful eye on loads coming through the system. “When I get in in the morning, I get everything running and watch it all day.”
John also watches to ensure that that all traffic is being handled appropriately, and that the categories that are required to be blocked are being blocked. “I look at the traffic graphs, in particular, to see if there is any trouble.”
After using Smoothwall for over 3 years, John is still pleased with his decision to go with Smoothwall’s Unified Threat Management. “It’s really a good product; I’ve used a lot of firewalls over the years, it’s definitely the best one,” says John.