We’re officially halfway through the roll out of the new industry leading hardware to all schools on the Managed Network, making the internet smarter and safer for schools right around New Zealand. So far we’ve upgraded the hardware at more than 1230 schools, with great results all round.  

Here’s what they’re saying:

“Love when people turn up when they say they’re going to and do what they say they’re going to do – Ka Pai N4L.” – Caroline Bush, Principal, St Joseph’s School (Orakei)

“Prior to the FortiGate, teachers were complaining about the speed of the internet, but since the upgrade, no one has groaned or moaned to me, so that must be good.” – Andrea Joyce, Principal, Tisbury School

“We did have an issue where not everything was working smoothly the next day, however this was dealt with quickly and efficiently.” – Diane Bates, Principal, Oruaiti School

What’s changed?

Improved filtering and firewall services.

The new hardware is designed by Fortinet, a company leading the way in network security for governments, businesses and education providers. We’ve worked closely with their team, and the team at Spark, to make sure schools are getting an industry leading security solution specifically designed to meet the needs of New Zealand schools.

As well as improved filtering, the new FortiGate hardware also offers a brand new firewall, which is able to understand the content of traffic leaving and entering every school’s network…it’s set to change the game and means your school is now better protected against bad traffic.

If your school is still paying for FortiGate, or another third party solution, you can talk through what this means for you with your N4L Relationship Manager – feel free to call them directly or call 0800 LEARNING.

Better ways to take care of VPNs.

No matter where users are, VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) let users safely access networks through an encrypted connection. But VPNs can also be used by students to bypass a school’s web filtering or security. When a new unwanted VPN is discovered at one school,our network automatically blocks that same VPN across the Managed Network, which means it can’t be used by students at other schools either.

What’s next?

Filtering and firewall.

It goes without saying that having the chance to make your own filtering and firewall changes is important. Right now, we’re working on a self-service tool called FortiPortal that will provide you the ability to do this. We’re in the middle of running some tests – and plan to have it ready for schools in Term 3. So watch this space.

Smarter reporting.

Speaking with schools, we know you are looking for an easy way to access insightful reports on your students’ online behaviour – such as what apps they use, how much bandwidth they use, what sites they visit etc. While we currently have a couple of standard ‘out of the box’ reports available, we’ve been working closely alongside schools, and the sector, to understand exactly what information is useful. This will help to inform a smarter reporting solution – we’ll keep you posted.

If your school’s already had the new hardware installed and you’ve previously used reports to understand students usage of the network, you can ask for the standard ‘out of the box’ reports (from your FortiGate hardware) on students’ internet usage or security. You can reach us on 0800 LEARNING to request these.

Better opportunities.  

Because we don’t believe bandwidth (speed) should be a barrier to learning, we’re working with our partners to look at how schools can have easier access to more bandwidth when needed. Part of this means monitoring the health of every school’s connection, which includes bandwidth and usage – so if we think a school’s internet is being affected in any way, we’ll work with the school to upgrade their connection. We’re also working on providing 1GB/s connections to all eligible schools, and while aspects of the Managed Network Upgrade will be completed by June 2019, moving all eligible schools to 1GB/s is targeted to be completed by the end of October 2019.

Still waiting on your upgrade?

If your school’s hardware hasn’t been upgraded yet, don’t worry. We’re still working our way around every one of the 2,441 schools connected to the Managed Network – and yours won’t be far off. Keep an eye on when your school’s upgrade is set to happen here.

All in all, the Managed Network is only going to get better… so stay tuned for more.