Schools tap into enterprise network security service

Managed security takes pain out of Internet connectivity

More than 50 schools have signed up to managed security services contracts with Sydney-based provider Earthwave, which has launched its ISONet Internet gateway aimed at the education market.

ISONet, The Independent Schools Online Network, is a carrier-neutral managed security service developed by Earthwave in conjunction with the Association of Independent Schools NSW (AIS).

AIS is the peak representative group for independent schools that do not fall under the public or catholic classification.

AIS ICT director Frank Brooks said the organization identified the need to provide network security for all autonomous schools and "Earthwave provided an objective approach and has a robust solution".

Brooks said with the new federal government's focus on IT in education, particularly the $100 million earmarked for improving connectivity, ISONet provides a means to facilitate that.

"The motivator is the emerging trend where schools develop networks for a variety of reasons and the networks want to share with each other," he said. "They would miss out and they need someone to manage the network."

Brooks said the emerging IT focus is challenging for schools as better connectivity requires a higher level of security, and more PCs in the classroom need better networks to cope with demand.

"ISONet provides the layer of security previously found only in high end corporate networks without the price tag," he said, adding schools can also start using other services like videoconferencing effectively with ISONet.

ISONet costs $35 per student per year, paid annually up-front, for all the basic services.

Sydney's St Andrews Cathedral School IT director, Ian Scott, has been using Earthwave's managed security service for two years and said it provided everything the school needs.

"I was doing this myself but I didn't have the same level of protection and people also asked me about certification," Scott said. "We buy the router and Earthwave provisions and controls it."

Scott recently switched the school's data network provider from Soul to Uecomm.

"I have five people in my team and I can set up a secure network," he said. "We used to get a lot of spam, but now we get none."

The school hosts all its systems in-house and is moving to a virtual server environment.

Earthwave has 21 staff and 200 customers, and manages some 3000 security devices. The company prides itself on keeping all of its clients' information on-shore and its services are resold through the likes of AAPT and PowerTel.

Earthwave CEO Carlo Minassian said ISONet has grown from word-of-mouth only, but now it is well tested can be launched publicly and is available to all schools.

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