London schools save £390m with private fibre network

London's 33 boroughs are saving £131m a year by aggregating their schools network and content delivery applications onto a newly-upgraded Juniper Networks-based fibre optic network.

London's 33 boroughs are saving £131m a year by aggregating their schools network and content delivery applications onto a newly-upgraded Juniper Networks-based fibre optic network.

An analysis of the value achieved (see table below) by the borough consortium showed that over three years, London ratepayers were paying £392m less than if the boroughs were buying equivalent network and content delivery services on their own.

The London Grid for Learning (LGfL) uses 100% optic fibre and 100% Ethernet running on Juniper's Junos network operating system to connect primary and secondary schools in the Greater London area. This makes it the largest educational metropolitan network in the world.

LGfL CEO Brian Durrant said the upgrade was needed to keep London at the forefront of online education. "LGfL needed a high-performance datacentre network to deliver state-of-the-art academic services at scale into the classroom and the staffroom across 2,600 locations," he said.

The network is also the backbone of the London Public Services Network (LPSN), which ensures reliable information sharing between the local authorities. During emergencies, the LGfL infrastructure can also provide contingency bandwidth to help carry key communications.

The upgraded Juniper network, supplied by Capita subsidiary Synetrix, enables LGfL to provide bandwidth-rich multimedia teaching and learning services, including videoconferencing with museums and specialist learning centres, content streaming, online managed learning resources, and more than one million pages of online content.

LGfL has deployed Juniper Networks' MX series universal edge routers for the core and distribution layer of its network, with advanced routing, MPLS, quality of service and multicast capabilities. LGfL standardised on Juniper's J series services routers for the customer premises equipment that connects the school to the network.

By using Juniper EX series Ethernet switches with virtual chassis fabric technology LGfL simplified Ethernet aggregation in the distribution layer to create flexible carrier-class level connectivity in its datacentre.

It is also using Juniper gateway servers and STRM (security threat response manager) to integrate, analyse and manage network behaviour, security events, vulnerability profiles and threat information. This lets it monitor network performance and security via a single console.

Value for money of the London Grid for Learning

Service Total net savings for London schools over three years
  £392,013,538
Paid to LGfL by LAs from DCSF grant to provide for services shown below as £0, inc LGfL net mgmt & operating costs -£6,800,000
Core network - paid by LAs from DCSF grant -£5,100,000
School broadband connections £51,591,540
Web Hosting £906,293
Domain Name Hosting £67,964
Secure Remote Access £1,896,180
URL Filtering (LA) £571,779
Email Content Control (email scanning) £17,004,150
Anti-Virus Protection - school computers £38,362,500
Anti virus teacher laptops live update at home £8,397,900
Unified Sign On for Pupils & Staff £25,200,000
USO - Second factor authentication - 'one time password' £143,000
Teaching and Learning Digital Content £7,426,632
Video Upload Service £28,800
Video Conferencing £18,000
StaffMail £15,094,800
LondonMail (Secondary pupils) £118,602,000
SafeMail (Primary pupils) £118,602,000
Source: Chris Buss, Wandsworth Council

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