While the Cooke School and Institute (CS) has evolved over the years, it has stayed true to its core mission. The New York City school helps students with special needs by creating a learning environment that caters to their specific needs. And while the school has excelled in its mission, it hasn’t always had the resources to bolster its IT processes.
When Paul Fisher moved into his role as Cooke School and Institute’s Director of Information Technology, he immediately saw the opportunity to change the trajectory. He knew he could improve processes and address cybersecurity concerns while ensuring his team had the reliable connection it needed to do what it does best: preparing the next generation for life on their own.
One lingering problem, however, was that the network in one of the school buildings was “slightly better than home cable internet” from the local cable provider.
Addressing the Growing Pains
The outdated technology caused frequent outages that would happen without warning. Making matters worse, since CS didn’t have a dedicated line, the school would be just one of many without internet in the vicinity.
“When we reached out to the ISP, they would try their best to help by the end of the day,” Fisher said. “We would have to wait for a technician to get dispatched to figure out what was going on. School is taking place during this time. We have a bunch of teachers with no internet, and that’s why I give these teachers the greatest amount of respect. They’re quick on their feet.”
Teachers couldn’t use their smart boards without an internet connection, but they persevered, using an iPad or pen and paper. Even though most people at the school accepted the outages as a necessary evil, Fisher knew he needed to find a solution.
“As we’re growing – and we’re growing very fast – the biggest challenge is to make sure we create processes and best practices that allow us to handle difficult situations when they arise,” Fisher said. “That requires a lot more planning on the backend than we’ve done in the past.”
As Fisher talked with service providers, a new problem emerged. It wasn’t that they couldn’t or didn’t want to replace the outdated technology with a more modern solution. The cost was always prohibitive, with one provider quoting $22,000 to run a dedicated line.
Since the school was scheduled to move to a new location in a year, Fisher was unwilling to pay exorbitant prices for technology he would have to leave behind. He also didn’t want to be locked into a multi-year contract for a solution he would soon outgrow.
Fisher knew he needed a partner to create a customized solution that catered to his specific needs and budget. When he connected with TPx, he encountered a team that looked at the situation from a fresh perspective.
A Creative Solution
TPx suggested incorporating SD-WAN technology to provide a wireless backup network instead of replacing the outdated cables. The commercial-grade wireless connection detects an outage and takes over the Wi-Fi, resulting in a continuous internet connection that allows teachers to continue their lessons without interruption.
“Now, when we have cable outages, TPx’s Wi-Fi keeps us connected until the cable comes back online. It’s nice and seamless,” says Fisher, quipping, “The staff went from saying, ‘we don’t have any internet; everything is down,’ to ‘do you know how long it’s going to be slow?’ That is a major win.”
This creative solution addressed CS’s pain points, allowing them to keep the cable infrastructure in place instead of paying thousands of dollars to replace it and take the wireless technology with them when they moved.
With the outages under control, Fisher can focus on building effective processes that help CS grow. He is already thinking through future problems he expects to face, and with the right partner in TPx, he knows he will be successful.
“I know that TPx is going to look for the best solutions to make things work,” Fisher said. “They’re not just trying to jam a square peg into a round hole. They’re creating custom solutions for our needs.”
To learn more about how TPx addressed CS’s needs by reading the full case study.