IT RECONFIGURATION IN BAD RAPPENAU
In the school’s large learning lab the word ‘quiet’ is splashed across one wall in ten languages, on the opposite wall a Chinese proverb is writ large: “When the wind of change blows, some build walls while others build windmills.” The municipal authority of Bad Rappenau built ‘windmills’ with support from CHG-MERIDIAN. The finance and technology management company won the contract in April 2014 for the project – put out to tender across Europe – of providing a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure, including administration systems, for the school.
It is a showpiece project that points to the future, and it has been flexibly adapted to the development of the IT infrastructure and the required computing power.
“This project is so exciting for us because we can provide a variety of services. These include advice on the sourcing of hardware, software distribution, rollout and installation of equipment, TÜV-certified data erasure with eraSURE®, IT support, financing, and support for the project partner throughout the project,” says Wolfgang Huber, Key Account Manager at CHG-MERIDIAN.
“The project is very extensive and complex,” adds Michael Grubbe, Head of IT at the municipal authority of Bad Rappenau. Regarding the complexity he adds: “An all-day school such as Verbundschule Bad Rappenau has specific IT needs. The school is undergoing a permanent process of change.” After all, student numbers are no longer predictable because primary schools’ recommendations about the type of secondary school children should attend are now not binding. This means the municipal authority can no longer estimate how its IT needs will develop.
“It was a big challenge for us to calculate the right amount of equipment,” Key Account Manager Wolfgang Huber explains. The flexible contract with CHG-MERIDIAN allows for adjustments to the number of assets to match requirements. Huber emphasizes: “The municipal authority can increase or decrease the number of assets at any time up to the end of the 60-month term. If the number of students falls, and we need to take back assets early, then we can remarket these elsewhere.” The municipal authority in Bad Rappenau values this highly. “The flexibility that the contract provides is very important to us. It is the icing on the cake,” says Grubbe of the modern IT solution.
This project is so exciting for us because we can provide a variety of services
First of all, existing fat clients were replaced with quiet thin clients and all monitors were replaced with new energy-efficient TFTs to reduce noise in the teaching areas. New projectors and printers were also installed. As the single point of contact, CHG-MERIDIAN steered and managed all processes of the IT infrastructure reconfiguration. It also acted as project manager to coordinate a project team consisting of a systems house and several service providers, such as software and phone system vendors.
A further element of the project was the installation of the server room, including a management server, a storage unit, a server farm, and an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). The server room also houses the school’s new phone system and the DSL line. The switch to a new phone system, bringing together the phone numbers of all schools at the site, was carried out as a subproject.
As part of the project the switches and network cables in the other buildings of the main campus were renewed, so that all buildings have high-speed access to the central system. A small back-up system with a UPS was also set up. The entire infrastructure – server, phone system, back up, and UPS – can be scaled up or down at any time to match the number of students.
“I had expected more problems. It was hassle-free, and every project step ran smoothly despite everything having to be carried out during the school holidays. The teamwork on the school’s project was very professional and customer-oriented. From a contractual point of view the project is highly complex, but we are very satisfied with the implementation and handling, which was in no small part down to CHG-MERIDIAN’s lack of bureaucracy,” said Grubbe. Yvonne Geier, deputy head at the school, is also satisfied: “Everything is very stable, the technology is very reliable. And that is of course very important to the running of the school. It’s also great that we can restrict access to the system to certain departments or individual students, as it allows us to have children of all levels and from all classes sitting, working, and learning side by side.”
Huber adds: “We would like to use this model, which we were able to implement with the right service providers, in the future for other municipalities. Individual requirements can be adapted at any time, of course.” Many schools often find the inflexible and cost-intensive approaches to new IT solutions prohibitive. At Verbundschule Bad Rappenau, CHG-MERIDIAN has managed to find the best custom solution and financing option – and its independence from banks, manufacturers, and service providers has been a key element in this. Thanks to the expertise gained from the successful implementation in Bad Rappenau, CHG-MERIDIAN now has the tools to establish state-of-the-art, IT-based learning environments that support media literacy in an appealing way at other schools.
* Source: Arbeitsbericht des Büros für Technikfolgen-Abschätzung beim Deutschen Bundestag [Report of the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag], 2007.
** Source: Study by the Allensbach Institute, 2013.
The comprehensive reconfiguration of the IT infrastructure at Verbundschule Bad Rappenau is a great example of a groundbreaking pilot project from CHG-MERIDIAN that can be easily applied to other schools.