The need for substantive network security in schools has never been greater. According to ID
Analytics, more than 140,000 minors are victims of identity fraud per year—and when their data is exposed, it is misused more frequently. One reason for this is that minors’ clean credit reports can make them extra attractive to identity thieves.
“The educational space is extremely concerned about ensuring [that] Personally Identifiable Information (PII) about students, and their respective data, is kept safe, secure, and only used for the learning environment,” says Jason Radford, head of operations for IlliniCloud.
The data of minors must be protected not just from outside threats, but—as many people who work in schools know—from inside institutions, too. “The students we have in schools today were born with iPads in their hands,” says Kenny Wilder, Director of Network Infrastructure for Fulton County Schools. “We have 96,000 students for the Fulton County School System; that means I’ve got 96,000 hackers inside my network—and some of those high school kids are really good at it.”
In fact, there’s some good news out there for Radford, Wilder, and others involved in securing the networks of American public schools. Dollars from the Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate program, which has long funded school and library broadband access, can now be used to strengthen networks even further. Why now? Because as of this year, E-Rate began funding wireless infrastructure and software-defined networking. That means VMware NSX now qualifies under the E-Rate program.
The FCC’s E-Rate program provides funding to develop and maintain broadband connectivity that help schools and libraries deliver Internet access and robust security tools to students and staff. As of 2016, the FCC determined that network solutions that virtualize eligible routing, switching, controller, and firewall functionalities are eligible for E-rate support. Based on this determination and the technical functionality of NSX, VMware NSX should be 100% eligible for E-rate funding.
That’s good news because VMware NSX provides unprecedented network security, so schools can maximize their security stances. NSX’s capability for micro-segmentation enables schools to develop truly Zero-Trust networks, which better protect sensitive student and school data.
But the benefits for schools actually go beyond security. For one thing, VMware NSX fits perfectly on top of schools’ existing hardware investments. It can adapt to any existing environment, fitting right in with a district’s current applications, workloads, and existing network infrastructure. For another, because NSX is software-based, network administrators can design, deploy, and modify networks based on a district’s current and future needs, rather than basing them on hardware ROI or depreciation cycles.
“The results [of using VMware NSX] are nothing short of amazing for students, faculty and staff,” Radford says. “We estimate that each educational institution that joins our cloud can potentially cut its annual IT spending by 30 to 50 percent, freeing up money for other important educational needs while getting tighter security and data protection.” With the added benefit of being eligible for E-Rate funding, switching over to a software-defined network with VMware NSX will prove for many schools districts to be a no-brainer.