The Client:

A private, for-profit university whose graduates go on to write and direct movies and music videos, oversee editing and cinematography for films, mix sound for movies and more.

The Challenge:

The school faced four separate dilemmas.

First, administrators needed to accommodate students’ insatiable demand for 3D and 4K (four times the pixels of 1080p) technologies. The problem was, the only such media lab resided in the main building and had reached capacity. Constructing another facility would run millions of dollars, not just in brick-and-mortar expenses, but also in servers, render nodes, high-capacity storage, switches, computers and additional program licenses.

Second, overall network security on campus needed a revamp. Each building was hosting its own separate Internet circuit and firewall. School leaders feared that the lack of centralization endangered the entire system. They also wanted to take some pressure off their IT experts and free them up to focus on strategic projects instead of day-to-day tech support.

Third, the school was desperate for more bandwidth. Students’ simultaneous downloads of the latest Apple iOS update, for example, clogged the system and slowed down access.

Finally, the school was juggling more than 20 communications- related bills per month. Administrators wanted to streamline the number of vendors and invoices, and see if monthly bills could be reduced.

Administrators wanted to streamline the number of vendors and invoices, and see if monthly bills could be reduced.

The Solution:

University IT staff turned to Hermosa Beach, Calif.-based Shamrock Consulting Group LLC for direction. They liked the idea of using an agency that holds agreements with all of the dark fiber and metro fiber providers in Los Angeles. The school further wanted to work with one representative, rather than with multiple people.

Ben Ferguson, senior network architect of enterprise sales at Shamrock Consulting, served as that contact. He first conducted an in-depth investigation, including a free telecom services audit, of the school’s network and security setup, and then called in Wolfe, the Seattle-headquartered provider that specializes in high-speed Internet and Ethernet access.

“As an agency, we want to be carrier-neutral,” Ferguson said. “We obviously ran a full audit for this opportunity and the reason why Wolfe stood head and shoulders above other vendors was [that] it has built an extremely impressive 100Gbps network backbone, making them stand out from a facilities-based carrier standpoint. And they are able to leverage multiple wholesale dark fiber and DWDM providers, giving them much larger reach than you would get from any other big-bandwidth provider in the business.”

Wolfe designed a network that connected all of the school’s buildings over 10Gbps Ethernet fiber, replacing the multiple, separate 100Mbps networks that had been running to each facility. Wolfe also cut down the number of Internet connections from six to two, centralizing security for the school’s IT staff.

“We’ve future-proofed the university.” — Shamrock Consulting’s Ben Ferguson

The Result:

The deployment of a single high-speed fiber network among the school’s campus facilities has created several measurable outcomes:

  1. Wolfe and Shamrock saved the institution millions of dollars because installing a new network meant not having to construct a new building. “We’ve future-proofed the university by bringing that much capacity,” said Ferguson.
  2. Students now may take advantage of next-generation film technologies such as 3D and 4K without experiencing a network slowdown. “High capacity, high performance,” Ferguson said.
  3. The school saw only a 10 percent price increase to get 100 times the network capacity.
  4. On the other hand, “the ROI was tremendous,” Ferguson said. That’s because Shamrock and Wolfe were able to install VoIP on the 10Gbps network, saving the school 80 percent on its voice communications expenses. The school had tried to use VoIP on the 100Mbps network but it couldn’t support voice along with the student’s video and other needs.
  5. In terms of security, the school’s IT staff manage fewer Internet connection points and can better mitigate the risks of activity such as illegal file sharing.
  6. Wolfe fully manages the Cisco Systems equipment at the school’s network edge. The service provider oversees all site-to-site and Internet connectivity. IT staff still track Web security, but because Wolfe handles more responsibility, they are able to pursue more tactical assignments.

“We were able to solve IT challenges, lower operational expenses and increase capacity 100 times in one fell swoop,” Ferguson said. He attributes much of that success to Wolfe. The company provides personalized service, he said, and isn’t bogged down by its own red tape. “It’s easy to reach people and get responses.”