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RM upgrades network to support schools

RM has spent hundreds of thousands improving its core network to make sure schools can access fast infrastructure

When RM announced that it was winding down its PC business and would instead focus on selling other services and software to schools there were some concerns over what the fallout would be from that decision.

As was expected the initial impact was felt quite keenly on the bottom line as the hardware revenues from education focused PCs dried up. But over time the firm started to demonstrate that it could make up for that lost revenue through other activities.

The latest chapter in the RM story comes just a couple of days before the great and the good in the education world meet at BETT and provides the vendor with something positive to talk about with partners and users.

The subject of most of its conversations later this week are likely to include the topic of networking and web filtering as RM has completed its core network offering 10Gb/s, routing, switching and firewalls to the schools market.

The project started last year with some pilot schools taking part and is now completed with customers going through the migration process to the latest platform.

A decent chunk of money has been thrown at setting it all up, using two replication sites, and the £3m investment is also designed to cater for the needs of schools coping with BYOD demands.

At the same time the firm has also improved its web filtering capabilities making it easier for teachers to prevent students from stumbling over unsavoury material.

“Over the last 10 years, our schools have gained significant freedom to choose how they run themselves, as well as how they teach the curriculum,” said Toby Black, managing director at RM Education.

A bit of a history lesson

The decision to exit hardware was made by RM back in late 2013 and production ceased in June 2014 as it moved the focus mainly onto software.  

Ever since that decision the quarterly results have been pored over and shown that the business has repositioned itself and has been able to move away successfully from its hardware roots.
“At the same time, there have been huge, global changes in ICT, centred on mobility and using the Internet to drive innovation. We recognised that making a significant investment in our core network to support much more demanding usage was going to be critical to the success of schools,” he added.

One of the themes of some recent research into schools and ICT teaching has been the gap between the technology in the classroom and the sort of products that are available in the wider marketplace.

Some of the areas that have held some educational customers back have been around networking with older infrastructures creaking under the strain of delivering the latest video and streamed content.

“Staff can only adopt new forms of ICT enabled learning, if reliable internet connectivity is available at the speeds that future applications are likely to need,” said Black.

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