School district learns about scaling directories
- By John Fontana
- Jun 28, 2000
As it consolidates eight school districts into one, the Toronto District
School Board is five months into a project that will enable the district's
network to serve more than 300,000 users.
The district's 600 schools have 300,000 students, 25,000 staff members and
50,000 computers. The migration of all those student and teacher accounts
to Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 2000 will be completed in 18 to 24 months.
"We know from our tests that Active Directory will hold up, and that's why
we implemented it so quickly. We have [migrated] 4,000 users right now,
and it's a snap," said Jey Jeyarajan, senior manager of technical services
for the school district.
Jeyarajan and the school district's information technology staff of eight
had to consolidate eight networks six based on Windows NT, one a Windows
NT/Novell Inc. NetWare hybrid and one a pure NetWare. They decided to build
a network-centric model, aggregating everything into one location and delivering
services through the network.
"We wanted to leave some of the administrative functions with the teachers,
such as changing passwords and adding and deleting users, without the complexity
of giving them full administrative rights," Jeyarajan said. "We also wanted
a hierarchical view of network security."
The district settled on Windows 2000 and Active Directory despite some initial
reluctance to adopt an unproven technology.
The design centralized Active Directory into a single metropolitan data
center built on top of powerful servers and connected to users through an
existing high-bandwidth fiber network.
The directory is constructed on three servers, which ensures that the school
district will have at least two servers always running. In case of catastrophe,
the directory data is backed up to tape.
After centrally deploying Active Directory, the other key was the high-speed
net. The board took advantage of a fiber-based network under construction
to deliver multimedia, e-learning and a virtual school environment.
All users log on through the directory to locate services such as file and
print, Internet and intranet access, e-mail, databases and more than 2,000
applications, including educational software such as The Learning Center's
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