Our 3,000km core fibre network spans Victoria from Warrnambool in the West to Lakes Entrance in the East and North to Wodonga and Shepparton.
We provide all of our products and services to all locations across the state.
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Case StudiesRead about how VERNet stands out
Deakin’s Partnership with VERNet drives the Digital Frontier University, Research Facility
Craig Warren, Executive Director, ICT Infrastructure at Deakin University’s eSolutions Division, is a passionate advocate of accessible technology. He strongly believes that the way in which people respond to digital technologies in the learning environment, the workplace, as well as socially, is one of Deakin’s greatest challenges.
Deakin University has five campuses. One is in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, two are in Geelong, one in Warrnambool on the South West Coast, and the fifth campus is cloud-based. Twenty percent of Deakin students study entirely in the cloud.
In addition to the campuses, Deakin has a multipurpose facility in Melbourne’s CBD, a network of learning centres in regional Victoria, as well as international offices in India, China and Indonesia.
The relationship with VERNet has enabled Deakin to provide highly efficient services to staff and students both on campus and remotely.
“We have worked closely with VERNet for a long period of time, and we rely heavily on their services to provide our students and customers with the flexibility they need to study and work effectively,” Craig said. “Our objective has always been to provide high speed internet access at a cost significantly lower than commercial services to a broad and ever-increasing audience.”
We rely heavily on VERNet for intercampus connectivity.
Craig shares a long history with VERNet. He was part of the Victorian Directors of Information Technology group when the Victorian universities and CSIRO established an innovative and much needed Wide Area Network (WAN). This WAN connected each institution to Australia’s national and international academic network.
A decision was then made to build a fibre optic network that would service the needs of Victoria’s research and education community. Craig chaired the Technical Advisory Group which provided feedback on the design of this network, and VERNet was subsequently incorporated to build and maintain this significant infrastructure.
It is essential that the university’s 53,000 strong student body is able to access the Deakin University network via their own devices, such as smartphones and tablets, from any location at any time. Deakin recognised the need to adapt the way in which it delivered services to students, and partnering with VERNet enabled this transition.
“While life on campus and high-quality computer labs create a complete university experience, we wanted to ensure our on-site infrastructure wasn’t limiting our students’ ability to study. We wanted a digital environment that enhanced, rather than remodelled, our existing services to help drive uninterrupted productivity for our students,” Craig said.
“Through the roll-out of new services and the development of our cloud campus, we’ve removed fixed barriers and bolstered our ‘Deakin Anywhere’ mission. This has seen an increase in staff and student productivity and transformed our students’ learning experience,” he continued. “We can provide services to students at TAFE, local schools, councils or wherever we can get a space to establish a learning centre. This allows us to teach remotely in these locations, giving students a large amount of flexibility in the way they study,”
VERNet’s infrastructure also allows Deakin to connect with regional hospitals, including Geelong Hospital, Warrnambool Base Hospital and Ballarat Base Hospital.
Craig explained, “VERNet’s infrastructure ensures that we are unrestricted in the services we can provide to students at these locations. Services provided include high-definition video-conferencing, fully immersive virtual reality and our cloud campus environment.”
“In Geelong, for example,” he continued, “we have VERNet connectivity to the major hospitals as well as 15-20 smaller internet access sites around the city. So when students are on a health placement, they can access the Deakin network at very high speed and use our resources. For example, a medical student can watch an appendectomy being performed in theatre and then leave and watch a video or virtual reality demonstration on their laptop of how the procedure is taught at Deakin.
“In the future we’re also very keen to work closely with VERNet in the secondary school sector,” he concluded, “We’d like to get as many students as we can studying at Deakin.”
Craig Warren holds a Bachelor of Science Degree (Honours) from Deakin University and is responsible for the university’s:
- Voice/data and video network
- Data centres including all servers/storage
- Workstation fleet of some 9,500 desktops
- Enterprise Cyber Security
- Audiovisual services in approximately 800 spaces, including 300+ video conference rooms.
Murray City Country Coast GP Training hails VERNet’s Support Research Facility, Health
Murray City Country Coast (MCCC) GP Training is a not-for-profit organisation delivering the Australian General Practice Training program (AGPT) and other related education and training programs across Victoria.
The program has been extended across the state to:
- North Western and North Eastern Victoria
- The Greater Albury Region
- Central Victoria
- South Western Victoria
- Greater Northern Metropolitan Melbourne
MCCC services these regions from four key hubs in Bendigo, Parkville, Warrnambool and Wodonga; and required a fast, reliable and extensible Wide Area Network solution that would enable the regional offices to function as a single organisation.
With the support and expertise of VERNet, the MCCC GP Training program was implemented within six months of awarding the contract. The four offices, an ExpressRoute to Microsoft Azure and a data centre link to NextDC were connected to provide a leading-edge network that is robust and reliable. MCCC is now able to plan for sustainable general practice workforces within the designated regions.
“MCCC selected VERNet to be connected to the education and research community across Victoria”, said Kelvin de Waele, Chief Information Officer at MCCC, “This makes it easier for us to collaborate with other organisations in the health education sector.”
Being able to rely on the VERNet network has allowed Murray City Country Coast to get on with the job of providing excellent GP Training for Western Victoria.
Mex Butler, MCCC’s ICT Manager, explained, “MCCC staff use video and web-conferencing daily to train, collaborate and support our registrars and training practices. VERNet’s services deal with our high-bandwidth usage without batting an eyelid.”
The VERNet network has provided MCCC with the ability to partner with general practices, facilitating integration of education, training, research and clinical governance with quality general practice. The growth and success of the partnership will enable MCCC to meet its objectives of providing sufficient trainees to support general practice of the future in all regions, and GPs with the skills and competencies required to provide contemporary general practice.
“Being able to rely on the VERNet fibre network has allowed MCCC to get on with the job of providing excellent GP Training for Western Victoria,” said Mr de Waele.
MCCC provides high quality education and training programs for GP registrars, junior doctors interested in careers as GPs, and where relevant, other general practice professionals. The training comprises a blend of face-to-face peer learning workshops supplemented by online teaching resources. Participants can pursue a special interest during training including:
- Hospital based terms: Obstetrics and gynaecology, geriatrics, accident & emergency, paediatrics, drug & alcohol, mental health, surgical terms, endocrinology, gastroenterology, respiratory medicine, oncology, radiation oncology, dermatology, palliative care.
- Community GP based terms: Dermatology, aged care, women’s health, sexual health, drug health, clinical teaching, undergraduate medical education, men’s health, population health, multi-cultural health, refugee health, sports medicine, travel medicine, minor surgery, skin clinic, diabetes management, preventive health.
- Advanced Rural Skills Terms (ARSTs): Twelve-month terms offer the opportunity to build skills, especially in procedural medicine such as anaesthetics, emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynaecology; and in mental health.
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
- Academic Research
- Extended Skills: Six-month posts in a variety of disciplines.
VERNet delivers secure link from Royal Melbourne Hospital to NorthWestern Mental Health sites Research Facility, Health
For more than 165 years the world-renowned Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) has provided Victorians with outstanding care and treatment, whilst conducting comprehensive medical research programs and advanced training for future health professionals.
As a leader in clinical teaching and training, the RMH partners with academic institutions across clinical specialities to educate students, staff and external health professionals. RMH’s partnership with the University of Melbourne has been in place for nearly 150 years, and the hospital prides itself on providing excellence in care and improving patient outcomes.
The VERNet service is an essential component in the hospital’s move towards a digital environment. A resilient and accessible internet link is crucial to both the provision of services to the community, and the ability to conduct evidence-based research, which drives improvements in clinical outcomes and the healthcare experience.
In late 2014 VERNet renegotiated its conditions of use to offer the benefits of the network to the health, primary and secondary education sectors. In 2015, the company leveraged these new arrangements to provide services to regional and metropolitan health networks and connect hospitals to the Victorian Government’s Health Shared Services data centre. One of the organisations benefitting from this renegotiation is the western branch of NorthWestern Mental Health.
Our partnership with VERNet has been a collaborative and seamless experience.
NorthWestern Mental Health delivers a comprehensive range of specialist, community and hospital-based mental health services. Prior to VERNet installing the new service, all internet traffic and connections to several remote Mental Health Program (MHP) sites traversed a 100Mbps microwave link, enabling access to data and applications.
Frank De Vuono, Director IT & T Services at RMH, explains, “The number of separate links, the hop count, was quite high to some of these remote sites. Each hop added latency, which reduced the effective speed of the links, causing applications to freeze.
“Over time the links became unreliable, and when an obstacle blocked the line of sight of the microwave service the link failed and communication was cut altogether, forcing a fall-back to a much slower service.” VERNet proposed a fibre service from Royal Melbourne Hospital to Western Health’s Sunshine Hospital to replace the unreliable ageing microwave infrastructure.
“With the VERNet service in place we are now networked at 1Gbps, which is ten times faster than the microwave link and does not suffer from latency, line of sight or environmental interference issues,” Frank said.
“The VERNet service has delivered security, stability and speed, enabling the hospital to work at an ever-increasing capacity. Our partnership with VERNet has been a collaborative and seamless experience,” he concluded, “We look forward to continuing our beneficial working relationship with VERNet.”
Victorian Research Hits the Data Superhighway University, Research Facility
In October 2012, the University of Melbourne connected its first research ICT services to the Victorian Research Network (VRN), a data superhighway for Victorian researchers.
Victoria is a hub of global research activity and the VRN’s any-to-any connectivity is specifically designed to make data intensive research activities faster and easier. A purpose built, resilient, high speed fibre optic research network linking up the State’s five major research precincts – Parkville/CBD, Clayton, Hawthorn, Bundoora and Geelong – the VRN was developed by VERNet Pty Ltd and is capable of speeds up to 100Gbps.
This VRN-first complements the existing suite of research ICT services the University of Melbourne already hosts, such as:
- The Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI) Peak Computing Facility, which conducts high performance computing to improve diagnostics, find new drug targets, refine treatments and further our understanding of the major diseases affecting our community.
- The National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (NeCTAR) Research Cloud, which is a new cloud facility used by more than 1600 researchers from around the country, and growing.
Now that the VRN is in place, cloud and supercomputing services from NeCTAR and the VLSCI can be easily accessed at high-speed by researchers in any research facility in Victoria which is also connected to the VRN,
says Dr Steven Manos, Manager of Research Services in Information Technology Services at the University of Melbourne. “The Australian Synchrotron is an experimental facility located in Victoria that is advancing research in fields as diverse as the biosciences, medical research, engineering and even forensics. Now that the Synchrotron is also connected to the VRN, researchers can easily move terabytes of their experiments’ data quickly to facilities like the NeCTAR Research Cloud. Once it is there they can rapidly process their data and start answering their research questions.”
Future uses planned for the VRN include shared services like research data storage and data archiving [via the Research Data Storage Infrastructure (RDSI) facility in Victoria], collaboration tools, rich network services, virtual applications and shared data centre access.
The VRN offers simple and low cost services, making the network available to research organisations who may not be able to fund or self-manage a dedicated network service.
Researchers’ ability to collaborate grows as more research institutes and facilities connect to the VRN. The network will support Victoria’s expanding research prominence across disciplines such as medical, agricultural, industrial technology, and manufacturing.
The Southern Victorian Alliances Research Facility, Health
One of the highlights of 2015 has seen VERNet establish an extended network for health in rural Victoria. The extension from Warrnambool to Bairnsdale connects the South West Alliance of Rural Health (SWARH) with Gippsland Health Alliance (GHA) and extends over a 500 kilometre span.
The Southern Victorian Alliances of Rural Health is now able to offer a platform for a large number of health providers to access a wide range of services across the health network. VERNet has entered into contracts to supply services to clinics and hospitals across Victoria’s South West and Gippsland regions as part of the Southern Victorian Alliances of Rural Health. There is potential to increase the geographic reach of this network for health across the state and transition health customers to a cost effective high performance service.
SWARH, formed in late 1997 as part of a Victorian Government initiative to combine hospital services with an affordable ICT network, is an alliance of public health agencies in South West Victoria. This alliance connects all public acute hospitals and associated health services from Melbourne through to the South Australian border.
Garry Druitt, Chief Executive Officer at SWARH, has worked closely with VERNet and has been instrumental in developing an affordable, high-speed, resilient network infrastructure to link health care support services and telehealth from regional Victoria to Melbourne with the long term vision being to facilitate connected links to all Government agencies.
“VERNet, VicTrack and a number of other government agencies worked with us to provide a cost effective solution for a high-speed shared fibre infrastructure between medical facilities and university research facilities.
A key factor in leveraging this network has been the payment we made to release health traffic. This enabled us to extend our services further.
“VERNet has been the only provider able to offer 1Gbps–10Gbps links based on a cost plus financial model. Working with VERNet was like a breath of fresh air, allowing us to form a partnership rather than just a business arrangement. The needs of the health services and staff were paramount in the extension of this network and VERNet was able to work with us to acknowledge that need. It was not just a business venture for VERNet, everyone involved was committed to the cause,” Garry said.
“We started extending this service last year with a fibre link from Warrnambool to Geelong. This link, with the help of VERNet, was extended from Geelong to Melbourne. In 2016 we have been able to further extend that connection right through to Gippsland, giving us a fibre backbone that provides a health and research network able to provide health technology solutions from Tally Ho in Burwood through to Bairnsdale in Gippsland and Portland in the South West,” Garry said.
One of the highlights of this network extension is that the two Health Alliances now have 11 to 12 shared services in common that are connected through data centres, allowing the common distribution of services such as email, service desk, internet, computer and storage solutions. Other technologies that are supported through this centralisation are: telehealth, IPTV for CCTV monitoring and surveillance, VolP, RFID scanning to track patients, staff and assets, IP messages to smartphones instead of pagers and virtualisaton of 4,000 devices.
“SWARH’s vision is to demonstrate cost effective high performance network options for the benefit of all health providers across the state of Victoria. We will continue to work to extend the service to all of government traffic, not just health, education and research.
“The next stage is to offer this concept to other alliances and health services. This could be initiated by encouraging others to connect to the group for specific services, such as email or internet, in this way the network can evolve across the state to help others to source and deliver services in health, research and education,” Garry said.
SWARH, in partnership with the GHA, has provided increased bandwidth and centralisation and by ultimately moving from four data centres to two will see datacentre costs cut by as much as 50%.
“VERNet has been able to provide the South West Alliance of Rural Health and Gippsland Health Alliance with a service that is resistant to failure by building in redundancy. That means that fibre loops and alternate paths are being established to ensure that service delivery is never disabled. This is now crucial in the delivery of 24x7 health services,” Garry said.
TAFE Gippsland (formerly Federation Training) TAFE
Nick Fordham, Business Analyst with Bairnsdale Regional Health Service and former Executive Director Information Management of Federation Training cites his relationship with VERNet as a significant enabler to the existence of Federation Training.
Federation Training was established in May 2014, following a government directive to amalgamate Advance TAFE and GippsTAFE. The aim being to create one united education model for Gippsland.
With 14 separately networked campuses from Chadstone to Lakes Entrance, Federation Training now offers regional students a diverse range of programs with specially designed learning environments. This gives students the opportunity to develop real skills and experience in the industries of their choice. Prior to this network construction, opportunities were limited and restrictive.
“We needed a way to merge the internal networks of the two TAFE organisations, which both contained a large number of sites.
“VERNet was instrumental in creating a secure high-speed internal network as well as giving us good access to the outside world with an external link,” Nick said.
By connecting to the VERNet network, Federation Training is able to provide students with options to undertake a variety of courses in Business, Health, General Education and various trades. Students are also able to take on higher education and study for a university degree through the flexible pathway options available.
“This amalgamation was a huge project for the whole organisation which we couldn’t have achieved as easily as we did without VERNet’s assistance. We had to link numerous campuses, physically dispersed over a couple of hundred kilometres to the one network. Because of the relative isolation of some of our students, VERNet provided us with the technical foundation to connect them to the world and our services. This connection allows Federation Training to provide video-conferencing facilities, on-line training, internet, etc. as teaching and learning tools for many students that were hard to reach and justify traditional class delivery in the thin markets that regional TAFEs face.
“The merger of our networks enabled Federation Training to behave like a single entity by giving us access to:
- A single internal communications network
- An integrated intranet service
- Improved internet bandwidth through a single gateway
- Internal email functionality
- A merged voice-over IP phone system
- Internal file sharing
“The TAFE sector in Gippsland was traditionally compromised due to limited internet bandwidth and access to peering networks. We could see contention on our networks as demand exceeded what was available” Nick said.
An affordable solution was desperately needed and the investment required to employ traditional commercial providers was not feasible.
VERNet was able to provide a link to peered network services via the existing AARNet network, providing Federation Training with a cost effective alternative, which also supported partnering with Higher Education providers in Australia, which was an important factor for us.
The process to connect the Advance TAFE and GippsTAFE networks took six months and included the construction, procurement, swapping and leasing of hundreds of kilometres of additional links, many site visits and surveys, as well as dealing with a number of providers including AusNet, Telstra, VERNet and VicTrack.
As VERNet is the largest legacy network provider in regional Victoria, it was obvious for us to partner with them. The project management VERNet provided was exceptional as was its attention to detail.
Although the project took just six months to complete, Nick said that it was a complex process, involving re-routing, construction and the transfer of ownership of fibre. This together with the technical, legal and contractual aspects meant that a mature partner able to provide a smooth transition was required.
“VERNet made it easy for us to initiate the process and then take on the process of connecting the numerous campus sites. At the time, many providers were not convinced of the need to provide this type of connection into regional Victoria. VERNet was prepared to provide a network back to Melbourne which turned into a big win for Federation Training.
“By providing the service VERNet did, Federation Training was able to do two very important things. One was to connect our internal networks and link our services so we could behave like a single organisational entity; the other was to provide Federation Training with the ability to get involved in new external activities and reach a broader student base.
“VERNet gave us a link to the outside world and that is vital in the name of research and learning,” Nick said.
Providing the foundations to embrace the digital age at RMIT with 10Gb/s VERNet WAN University, Research Facility
Over the last two years RMIT University has undertaken a program of work to provide the technology foundations that prepare for the future requirements of RMIT’s students, researchers and staff in today’s digital environment. The result? A sophisticated infrastructure that has opened up a world of opportunity for technological innovation, and future-proofed the university for many years to come.
The Project – Network Standardisation - undertook a significant upgrade to the university’s eight-year-old core network infrastructure, the alignment of existing data centre services with the new core network, an equipment refresh, and the decommissioning of a number of legacy services. The upgrade has provided RMIT with advanced, scalable wired and wireless networks that enable users to enjoy a seamless, highly available, secure experience – consistent highspeed performance across the university.
VERNet’s engineering team worked with RMIT’s engineering and project management teams to design an efficient, cost effective and future-proof solution to align the university’s core network upgrades with critical paths between its main campus and its data centres. VERNet added three 10Gb/s diverse services to RMIT’s WAN, between the university’s two major CBD campuses and two data centres located here in Melbourne. An existing 10Gb/s service between two data centres was also renewed, and a temporary 10Gb/s service was provisioned for a few months to assist with the university’s network migration.
High performance networks, digital platforms and best in class campus technologies provide our students an amazing experience and flexibility to learn anytime, anywhere consistently and securely
With 30,000 concurrent wireless users and 60,000 individual devices connecting per day across the network - in Melbourne and also similar volumes in Vietnam - RMIT needed to ensure that both its wired and wireless networks would provide a seamless experience for students, staff and researchers; now and well into the future.
To achieve this, the university’s eight-year-old core infrastructure needed to be upgraded and redesigned, requiring a high capacity, low latency solution that would provide secure services for users. With the dramatic increase in usage over the past few years set to continue, the new infrastructure needed to not only sustain its high performance now, but also be efficiently scalable to meet future demand as the university grows.
The network was redesigned to retire a number of legacy services and old infrastructure, and then be migrated to a new 10Gb/s core fibre-based network.
The complex migration component of the core upgrade required that all service upgrades be carefully project-managed and provisioned to minimise service disruption.
150 buildings across Melbourne, Vietnam and Barcelona were migrated to the new Network.
RMIT has gained a 100% increase in network capacity and improved service uptime, now achieving 99.99%, 24x7, 365 days per year. The network is capable of supporting 10Gb/s throughput, supporting the digital demands expected by today’s generation. The network is supporting 30,000 – 40,000 students and staff on campus on any given day. With spare capacity available to meet unplanned demand, enabling the university to effectively manage events such as Open Days.
Another area that has seen significant benefit from the upgrade is the university’s research sector - research data volumes are unpredictable, and bandwidth needs to be accessed immediately without causing degradation to other parts of the network. The upgraded infrastructure now manages these fluctuating volumes easily, without disrupting day-to-day operations.
Overall, the transformation has enabled RMIT to provide a much higher quality, more consistent experience for students, staff and researchers. The increased bandwidth has opened up new options for the university that weren’t possible before. With plans to adopt innovative cloud-based technologies in the future, there’s a lot more to come.
VERNet and Melbourne Polytechnic enter into a long-term partnership to provide a minimum of 10Gbps to seven campuses for 14 years TAFE
Recognised as one of the leading Vocational and Higher Education institutions in Australia, Melbourne Polytechnic has been a provider of hands-on, industry-linked education to Victorians for over 100 years. Priding itself on providing students with a contemporary learning environment, Melbourne Polytechnic produces highly skilled, work-ready graduates who are eager to make a difference. In 2018, the ITS Team commenced a network infrastructure overhaul that will take it to the next tier of IT capability.
With education delivery becoming increasingly reliant on network-based technologies, Melbourne Polytechnic’s modest network of sub-1Gbps services was limiting its ability to take full advantage of technological advancements within the sector. Changing teaching methods and cloud-based service offerings, combined with bandwidth-heavy technologies such as virtual reality, video content and collaboration applications; were driving increasing demand for bandwidth.
A robust new solution was needed – a high-capacity, scalable network that will adapt to the evolving needs of its users over time.
Following a highly competitive tendering process, Melbourne Polytechnic selected VERNet to design and build a fully diverse Wide Area Network (WAN) connecting all seven of its campuses. With a fourteen-year service term, this crucial foundation will enable the ITS Team to provide uninterrupted, highly available services and leading-edge technologies to students and staff well into the future.
“The services provided by VERNet for our high capacity WAN lay the foundation for some very complex and in some cases effort-based changes to the pedagogy, to provide more learner-centric courses rather than teaching-centric courses”
The existing sub-1Gbps network was no longer sufficient to meet the evolving needs of users. A significant increase in capacity was required to support new applications, and to accommodate technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and machine learning effectively and without disruption.
The seven campuses are located over a very wide geographical area, with bandwidth coverage varying between locations. The aging infrastructure needed upgrading in order to keep pace with emerging technologies and cater to increases in demand over time.
Limited network capacity was in some cases preventing Melbourne Polytechnic from providing valuable resources to students. For example, Microsoft Teams has been used by staff for some time but could not be provided to students on the current network. Insufficient capacity to host lab applications in the cloud limited students to onsite access.
VERNet custom designed a diverse 10Gbps WAN ring connecting all seven Melbourne Polytechnic campuses, made fully redundant using dual lead-ins at each site. VERNet also provides 10Gbps connectivity to cloud service providers at NEXTDC Melbourne Data Centre (M1) and Equinix Data Centre in West Melbourne; and internet services.
Melbourne Polytechnic now has the foundation for a futureproof, agile network that the ITS Team can build out as new technologies and applications become available. The scalability will enable granular capacity increases to meet future demand in a cost-effective manner.
With the boosted network capacity, plans are in place to deploy Microsoft Teams across the student body; and to relocate approximately 245 lab applications to the cloud, enabling remote access through cloud-streaming. Lecture Capture is currently in the pilot phase, and once rolled out will enable students to view lectures anytime, anywhere.
The new network will also make virtual reality, X-Reality and artificial intelligence technologies much more accessible. Virtual learning environments are just one example of countless innovations setting Melbourne Polytechnic apart, cementing its position at the forefront of vocational education.
High bandwidth cloud services to the not-for-profit community services sector Community
Uniting (Victoria and Tasmania) Limited, known as Uniting Vic.Tas, has been formed by integrating twenty-five entities into a single organisation. Since its creation in 2017, Uniting has partnered with VERNet to build a Wide Area Network (WAN) core which will ultimately interconnect 250 or more sites. Seamless, high speed connections into Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services enabled Uniting to deploy an enterprise platform in just four weeks, at scale, to support their 7000-strong workforce.
Across 250 offices and in excess of 500 residential units, Uniting Vic.Tas provides 770 programs and services that people rely on every day. Prior to the merger, these services were delivered over fifteen disparate networks, hindering Uniting’s precursor entities’ ability to service all sites equitably. VERNet’s cost effective, high bandwidth capacity allows Uniting to consolidate their services into the cloud, enabling them to address inequity of service across sites while also benefiting from significant economies of scale. Over the next three years Uniting will migrate in excess of 250 sites to the new network, ensuring the organisation’s future capability to undertake life-changing work in the rapidly-transforming community services sector
Our high-speed network enabled by VERNet allows ‘at desk’ provisioning of PCs and laptops for new starters. Along with Microsoft Autopilot and Intune, it has reduced a 10 hour process to 30 minutes. With almost 1000 machines per annum upgraded, managed or re-provisioned, this is a significant efficiency. It allows more time to be spent supporting staff in their critical work, deploying productivity tools, and further modernising our ICT platforms.
Ageing infrastructure within fifteen disparate networks created inequity of service between sites and significant issues with collaboration post-merger. With the sector shifting towards electronic platforms, Uniting needed to centralise services and adopt an enterprise delivery model. Twenty-five organisations with a total of 7,000 staff and volunteers needed to be integrated quickly and with minimal disruption.
With multiple active directories, email systems, telephone systems, corporate and client applications, the move to a centralised approach is not without its challenges. It is paramount that services are underpinned by a reliable high-performing core network supporting improvements to regional services.
VERNet custom designed a Uniting Private Network (VPLS) core to interconnect Uniting corporate sites to provide access to high speed connections into the Internet, Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.
VERNet’s services have enabled Uniting to smoothly transition to an enterprise business platform. With operations centralised, economies of scale are driving significant savings that can now be reinvested in the provision of modern, sustainable ICT. Uniting has built a cloud service which will gradually replace the local services in all Uniting sites over the next three years. Once all sites are connected, the VERNet core network will support extensive use of video-conferencing, collaboration applications such as Microsoft Teams, and Office 365. Uniting is now significantly ahead of its peers and the industry in terms of both a complete Cloud-first adoption strategy and in maximising its utilisation of the Microsoft SaaS productivity stack.
Marcellin College upgrades technology to meet increasing demand for bandwidth Education K-12
Marcellin College has successfully doubled its bandwidth through installing a 400Mbps VERNet service. ICT Manager, Remco Burgers, and Director of Community Engagement and Marketing, Ben Bugeja, share how the school is leveraging this new capacity to enrich the learning environment.
Marcellin College is a Catholic boys’ secondary school located in the leafy Melbourne suburb of Bulleen. Founded in 1950, the college has a rich history of academic excellence spanning almost 70 years. The decision to install a second internet service arose from a need for both diversity and increased bandwidth. Prior to engaging VERNet, the college relied on a single 400Mbps fibre service from the Catholic Education Office (CEO), and the needs of the school community were rapidly changing.
Remco explains, ‘Capacity requirements are always increasing. The school has recently moved to Microsoft Office 365, and a lot more of our services are being provided online. Our CEO link is a shared service and they can have outages like anybody else, which can affect the quality of service we’re delivered. So the school chose to go down the path of getting a secondary connection to alleviate this.’
To manage the fluctuating traffic of 1500 users, Remco’s team has employed a load-balancing system. ‘We now have 800 Mbps combined bandwidth between the two services, with the load balanced between the two. If one service goes down the other one takes over, and vice versa,’ Remco says. ‘Continuation of service is our main priority, so having the CEO link and the VERNet link makes that so much easier.’
The microwave service has proved a reliable and economical solution. ‘To get another fibre connection would have been very costly, so the decision was made to go with the microwave link from VERNet,’ continues Remco. ‘It’s obviously a much more economical option. We’ve had the link on a trial basis for six months now, with really good results. The team at VERNet have been very responsive to what we needed.’
The team at VERNet have been very responsive to what we needed.
The scalability of the service is particularly advantageous, enabling the school to not only increase bandwidth to meet growing requirements in the future, but also increase it temporarily to manage short-term usage spikes. ‘Our bandwidth requirements will vary hour to hour, minute to minute, depending on what the students are doing,’ Remco explains, ‘Some of their work is very intensive on the internet and some of it isn’t as much, so it ebbs and flows. We can call VERNet and say, “Hey guys, we’ve got some really heavy times coming up, turn up the pump”.’
With twice the previous bandwidth to play with, the college is introducing a Cloud First Policy. ‘Our preference is to have products that live in the cloud, it provides much easier access for everyone,’ Remco says. ‘It doesn’t matter if our site goes down, people can still access it, or if parts of the internet go down, people can still access it. A lot of schools are moving towards this, it’s a hybrid model - you have some of your services inhouse and others in the cloud, and you balance them.’
The ICT team is currently hard at work on the upcoming roll-out of Schoolbox, a sophisticated Learning Management System (LMS). Schoolbox provides students with their own centralised portal, storing their study materials, assignments and academic records. After a twelve month lead-in of extensive planning and staff training, followed by a successful trial, the team is now on track to implement the platform across the student body for 2019. Access will then be extended to parents and guardians later in the year, enabling them to view their child’s academic progress and achievements in real time.
Schoolbox is set to transform the way education is delivered at Marcellin. As content accumulates over time, each account builds on itself year after year, becoming an increasingly valuable resource for both students and parents. As the platform is hosted both inhouse and in the cloud, users can access it from anywhere at any time, Remco explains. ‘It’s all online, it’s all available. The LMS becomes a repository of information, as opposed to “I’ve got my piece of paper and I filed it away and I think I’ve got it somewhere…”,’ he laughs, ‘With the LMS, we can go back and see exactly what we did last year.’
Do they anticipate any issues with increased traffic from Schoolbox? ‘It’s fairly lightweight in terms of the way the students will be using the data on there,’ says Remco, ‘but it’s 1500 students using it all at once, so we’ll see what happens. We haven’t had any issues so far, if we do we’ll adjust our firewall and bandwidth accordingly.’
Today’s rapidly evolving tech landscape is opening up a world of possibilities for schools, and Marcellin is evaluating the options through the lens of its core objective – to provide students with the highest quality learning experience possible. Ben explains, ‘We’re looking at new tech and new applications, and we’re figuring out how we’re going to use them effectively.’ It’s essential that new technology is introduced with minimal disruption to the learning environment. ‘You want it to be efficient right from implementation’, Ben says.
‘We don’t just want to say, “Here’s some tech”,’ adds Remco, ‘it’s got to be about, “How does this fit into the curriculum?” For instance, could we utilise virtual reality to teach English or Maths in a VR environment? Or can we use this technology to connect to another class in another country in real time to do that lesson?’
With so many possibilities on the technological horizon, the future’s looking bright at Marcellin College.
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