Case study: Get smart
Case study: Get smart

An organizing solution was found to manage mobile devices being used in Florida's Hillsborough School District, reports Greg Masters.

While the number of students passing through Hillsborough School District in Florida may be on par with what it was a decade ago, the number of mobile devices used to access textbooks, homework assignments and the like has more than doubled in that time.

And, being the eighth largest school district in the United States – with 267 sites spread throughout the Tampa-St. Petersburg area – one is talking about some big numbers.

The task of finding an integrated solution suite that would allow the educational institution to protect and manage its IT environment with a broad set of tools and services fell to Sharon Zulli, the district's manager of the technology customer services and support department.

It was not merely the doubling of endpoints that was a concern. Students, faculty and staff were also clamoring for choice in the mobile devices they could use on the network. Zulli and her IT staff of about 80 people wanted something that could be automatically and coherently managed. “We needed a centralized means for delivering software to faculty, staff and students,” she says. “Imaging and reimaging and provisioning were all factors.”

While online reference material, assignments, lessons, collaboration and multimedia were once an exception in K-12 educational environments, this is no longer the case. And, with many institutions offering fully virtual learning environments – in addition to states mandating that K-12 schools provide one or more online classes before graduation – the importance of protecting the infrastructure, information and identities of students, faculty and staff has become not just a priority, but a necessity.

Zulli and her team looked at a variety of solutions. The district had been a Symantec shop for many years so it compared Symantec offerings with other popular solutions. Presentations were made to the school district's technology steering committee. Possibilities were examined against the current deployment, and end-user familiarity played a role in the decision process. A procurement bid was conducted to make the final selection based on input from the tech steering group.