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Anne Arundel County Public Schools raises application experience for students and staff

Constant uptime

99% service availability required

 

800 servers

Supporting 80,000 devices

 

>95,000 active users

89,000 students & 6,826 teachers

 

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The Problem

AACPS serves over 95,000 users with a wide range of internally developed and publicly available business-critical apps. It needs a load balancing solution that can provide high availability and security in a dynamic environment for their apps, including but not limited to Exchange, Pearson Financial Accounting, CGI Benefits and SharePoint.

 

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Why Kemp

Availability is vital for ACCPS. Regulatory requirements mandate that students can access their services at critical times, such as during exams. The value that Kemp delivers for the AACPS IT team and their users, security and excellent relations with Kemp’s staff were also important considerations.

 

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The Solution

Kemp LoadMaster provides load balancing services that help AACPS maintain near 100% service availability, especially during peak usage. The reverse proxy feature ensures a secondary layer of security, delivering more value.

 

Introduction

Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) is a public school district serving over 89,000 students and employing 6,826 teachers in 128 schools in Maryland, United States. All classrooms have Internet access and there is one instructional device such as a desktop, laptop, Chromebook, or tablet for every 1.1 students.

The Challenges

AACPS delivers a wide range of services to students and teachers, using a mix of 800 physical and virtual servers. Their IT team was searching for a modern load balancing solution for their Exchange servers and other business critical applications. These are a mix of internally developed and publicly available apps, including Pearson Financial Accounting, CGI Benefits for HR, and Microsoft SharePoint for their own myriad of internal apps. Their load balancing environment couldn’t handle growing traffic and they were experiencing typical issues with things like the number of connections, forwarding, encryption and offloading SSL. During peak usage times, AACPS needs 100% availability for their users, and they need to achieve this in a secure and cost-effective manner. The IT team plans to utilize increased virtualization, replacing their physical servers. They need a load balancing solution that can meet the needs of both environments, now and into the future.

The Solution

Since first becoming a customer in 2014, AACPS school district has trusted Kemp to help maintain their application experience in a secure, cost-effective manner. After evaluating several load balancing vendors for this project, AACPS engaged with Kemp on a proof of concept trial. Their already strong working relationship with Kemp’s knowledgeable and helpful support staff developed further during the trial. This proven success made it easy for AACPS to select Kemp LoadMaster load balancer. Greater capabilities, superior support and better value proposition made Kemp the obvious choice.

AACPS began using Kemp to help improve the performance of and resolve issues with their Exchange servers. Kemp delivered so much value in this part of their network, AACPS extended it to other areas like administration and finance, where it continues to add value. LoadMaster now helps balance workloads, secure the network and ensure great application and user experiences on their 800+ Windows-based servers as well as in their data centers and cloud.

Manish Patel, Senior System Admin and IT Lead for AACPS, says Kemp has improved user and application experience while adding real value for AACPS and their IT team.

The End Result

Availability and user experience are absolute priorities for AACPS, who must always be able to provide services to users with high reliability. AACPS’s service availability is at 99.99% since their latest Kemp installation. LoadMaster helps AACPS schedule down time for maintenance that does not result in down time for users. Greater reliability also reduces the pressure on the IT team to solve service outages.

Value is a close second to availability, in terms of priorities. AACPS needs to deliver value for their users and in turn, they need to derive value from how they load balance applications. The IT team benefits from Kemp’s many years of experience through their excellent working relationship. In turn, AACPS IT team can pass this value on to their users in terms of improved application and user experience.

AACPS also chose Kemp over the alternatives because of the advanced feature set that grows with their needs. AACPS expects Kemp to grow with them in the future as they enable virtualization, geographical load balancing and other future needs. The failover support features also helped ensure future proofing as the network grows and was important for AACPS. Security is another important area where Kemp continuously delivers value to AACPS. Many users are STEM students who rigorously test the security of the network. AACPS also has many regulatory responsibilities for protecting the students online. The reverse proxy and other features of LoadMaster help them to maximize security across their diverse IT and application landscape. The experience of the Kemp support team was crucial to completing a “a very smooth” implementation in less than 30 days.

AACPS has been so impressed, it recommended working with Kemp to the regional authority who now plan to use Loadmaster across their organization.

 

The Kemp support team has been phenomenal to work with. Besides Kemp and Microsoft, I wish I had other vendors to work with like that, where I get top-of-the-line service.

 

Manish Patel
Senior System Administrator and IT Lead for AACPS

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