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Centerprise International assists Global Academy University Technical College in building a brand new ICT infrastructure

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Background

The Global Academy University Technical College (Global Academy) opened in September 2017 with 163 students. At the pace of their current growth, they will have 800 students at capacity aged between 14 and 18 by 2020.

The Academy is the brainchild of Global, the media and entertainment business (behind radio stations such as Heart, Gold, Classic FM and LBC). Global Academy students work towards GCSE or A-Level qualifications, whilst also learning the hands-on skills needed to work in the broadcast and digital media industry.  The students get to know people who already work in the industry and work on real-life projects in a very hands-on style, in order to obtain the most well-rounded media education experience available.

ICT infrastructure requirements

Global Academy went out to tender for the supply of their entire ICT infrastructure.  This included a wired and wireless network infrastructure, all teaching endpoint devices and Audio Visual (AV).

Centerprise International (CI) has a wealth of technology experience in the education sector.  They responded to the tender and won the contract, which is set to last five years, from January 2016 – September 2021, at a cost of over half a million pounds.

The installation process

CI attended weekly site meetings, pre-build, with Global Academy’s construction partner, Yorkon.  CI represented the Academy and made sure that all of the necessary ICT requirements were incorporated into the build. A number of these meetings covered AV installations, helping to ensure that the initial cabling was properly undertaken before the walls were fitted.

CI’s attention to detail resulted in a tidy finish with no visible trunking on the walls. By working so closely with Yorkon, CI were able to schedule definitive timelines for the ICT installation into the project build plan. The hardware was installed onsite and all the rooms were ready in advance.

The pre-staging of the solution, including the entire setup and imaging of client devices, was completed offsite by Ci at their plant facility in South Wales and their Head Office in Basingstoke.  This ensured that the installation time onsite was reduced, substantially lowering resource costs.  

Innovative solution

Based on the media specialism of the Academy, with a mix of Apple and Windows devices, CI designed and implemented a server cluster, based on Hyper-V.  This complex solution will give Global Academy a high performance, high availability storage platform for the large amounts of media content which is created and saved by the pupils.

“CI play a huge part in ensuring the future success of our Academy; from building and managing all of our IT Infrastructure, to providing 24/7 support, ensuring our systems are ‘always on’ and ‘live’. We work hard to ensure our technology is always current and CI consistently advise on how we can improve our systems and where we can develop. Staff and students at the Global Academy work towards an ‘Obsession Statement’ which defines their behaviours and values on a daily basis. The team at Centerprise are also ‘obsessed’ with our establishment, providing direction and professional expertise. They make sure we continue to inspire, develop and transform the lives of our young people.

– Luke Shires, Specialist Services Team Leader at Global Academy

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The wireless solution was designed with a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy for 800 students in mind, providing high volumes of bandwidth and ease of access and management for onsite staff. The network infrastructure is across two hub rooms and the server room, yet the solution still provides 10 GB connectivity back to the servers, regardless of which classroom suite or floor the students are located.

CI’s design and integration plan was based on a combination of operating systems, with two Apple iMac suites supporting music production and four Dell XPS All-In-One suites supporting the creative media specialism. The iMac suites were fully equipped with 27” Apple iMacs, Novation MIDI Controllers, Focusrite Scarlet USB interfaces and headphones. Alongside the fixed ICT suites, CI provided two trolleys of mobile notebooks for student use.

Providing students and staff with the tools to get the most from their industry-grade hardware, Ci implemented a number of specialist software packages including Apple’s GarageBand, AutoDesk, Protools and the Adobe Creative Cloud suite. Global Academy utilises Microsoft Office365, with all students and staff being able to access their work on and offsite.

CI has equipped each of Global Academy’s teaching spaces with a comprehensive AV solution. They installed interactive Epson projectors in the classrooms with dry wipe boards and speakers. In the meeting rooms, wall-mounted 49” LED displays with sound bars have been fitted.  CI also designed, installed and configured two large lecture theatre spaces for large presentations or assemblies.

The Academy has a number of strategically placed, wall-mounted digital signs, used to display messages. On the ground floor, CI installed a four-screen (2 x 2) video wall which links to the digital signage which can display content during the day, or it can be used for special events to present student-created content.

CI also implemented Dell Optiplex 3040 Small Form Factor desktops into each of the specialist recording studios. They are fully integrated with specialist recording studio equipment provided by Oxford Sound & Music, who work with Global at their nationwide radio station studios.

Ongoing support

Global Academy recruited their own IT technician, who CI supported by providing a bespoke, two-day post-implementation training course, led by MS and Apple certified technicians. Half of the course was dedicated to the Windows administration side of the infrastructure, with the other half dedicated to the effective MacOS management of the estate of devices.

CI was awarded the ongoing third line escalation support for the infrastructure, with the support team providing Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM), Remote Monitoring and remote assistance for Global Academy, as and when required.


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