The Fort Dodge Community School District board approved Monday purchasing a new Hewlett Packard network core switch.
"This switch is basically the heart of the network," said Jeremy Pearson, FDCSD director of technology. "All of our fiber links from all of our school buildings come back and tie into this one piece of gear."
Vital Support Systems of Des Moines submitted a quote of $67,776.56 for the new HP 8212 switch. The quote includes monitoring software that will keep the switch operating and allow the district to be proactive in how it manages the network and its applications.
The piece of computer technology is desperately needed, according to Pearson.
"There are a couple of infrastructure needs that we've been putting off and putting off, and this is one of those pieces that we really need to get to," Pearson said.
The switch used by the district now is outdated and well past its life expectancy, Pearson said.
"Apparently the switch we're using is a Cisco switch, and it was purchased when we started doing this 11 years ago," he said. "It's served its purpose and done everything we've asked it to do. It's just finally starting to show its age."
Problems are already starting to present themselves with the current switch.
"It's switching over between supervisors, and just kind of getting tired of doing everything that we're asking it to do," Pearson said. "Plus, we've also added a lot of additional network applications that, when we did this 11 years ago, we didn't even dream of happening."
Since installation, among other things, the district has added video surveillance at Fort Dodge Senior High, which will be present at the new middle school and later be granted to the district's other school buildings, Pearson said.
"The district phone system is now all network-based, so that all travels over the network. And at some point video traffic is going to go from the cable TV to the network, and we're going to rely on that as well," he said.
Pearson warned that the purchase should be made in case the current core switch suddenly dies.
A new switch is also needed to accommodate the new middle school, Pearson said.
"Our current switch will not handle the capacity that we're going to push out to the new middle school," he said. "This new switch will allow us to do that as well."
According to Pearson, the district's server infrastructure needs will be addressed at the end of the year.
"This is something we can get done yet over the summer. And then we'll push everything off until Christmastime," he said. "We're not planning to do any major server issues until break."
The board unanimously accepted the bid from Vital Support Systems.