5 Strategies for Thoughtful K-12 Network Infrastructure Upgrades

Ready to uplevel your school network? These strategies will increase network safety and efficiency while making future upgrades easier and less costly.


Technology and education haven’t always gone hand in hand. Just a decade ago, many schools had completely banned technologies like smartphones, tablets, laptops and more. But the classrooms of 2024 have done a complete 180: You’d now be hard-pressed to find a classroom that isn’t utilizing some form of tablet or laptop in its curriculum. In these new high-tech classrooms, admins and IT leaders need best practices and strategies for securing classrooms against ever-increasing cyberattacks.

This seismic technological shift has come with a new set of challenges, from making sure students have their tech charged and ready to go each day to securing on-campus and remote networks to make sure students can safely connect from anywhere. Wi-Fi and remote access points are now the primary methods for connection, but despite that, the network infrastructure at many schools still leaves a lot to be desired.

In the past, some schools haven’t undertaken such updates until after network infrastructure is compromised, resulting in both steep financial losses and loss of valuable instruction time. Proactive upgrades to safer, higher-performing technologies are the path forward, and SonicWall is ready to help you make that path easier.

Density Planning

Traditionally, Wi-Fi network planning focused on coverage, but when planning for efficiency, coverage isn’t enough. Even if a classroom’s wireless signal covers the whole area, it may still need help keeping up with the number of devices that students and faculty are using.

School leaders should be planning for the maximum traffic density in each classroom and across the entire campus. This ensures that students, faculty and visitors are always covered, and helps prevent issues caused by low bandwidth. Tools like the SonicWall Wi-Fi Planner can help IT leaders visualize and plan for maximum device density and traffic across their environment.

Embracing Cloud Technology

Many school applications and functions have transitioned to the cloud to save valuable server space and increase access. But managing cloud applications can be difficult and even confusing. Cloud-managed wireless solutions, like SonicWall’s Wi-Fi Cloud Manager (WCM), offer centralized management and easy access through the SonicWall Capture Security Center (CSC).

With WCM and CSC, you can manage tens of thousands of wireless access points and a variety of networks. Cloud App Security (CAS) can be easily deployed in a matter of minutes and leverages machine learning, artificial intelligence and big data analysis to catch email-borne and zero-day attacks that can be easily missed by your cloud provider. CAS stops business email compromise, phishing, malware and account takeover attacks, and even combats against insider threats.

Unified Management System

Deploying so many technologies often means juggling multiple different management software applications, gunking up processes and taking valuable time away from school IT leaders. Choosing to implement a cohesive ecosystem with a unified management system can save money and time while simplifying management. A tool like SonicWall Capture Security Center (CSC) offers a single-pane-of-glass management system, and its unified view of your entire network and real-time analytics enhance network security and efficiency. CSC also streamlines network governance by integrating various security resources into one easy-to-use dashboard.

Content Filtering and Advanced Licensing Implementation

Any time you turn kids loose with internet-connected devices, they’re bound to test the limits of what they can and can’t get away with. Teachers and other faculty don’t have the bandwidth to constantly monitor everything students are doing – but SonicWall’s Content Filtering Service (CFS) does. Content filtering is crucial for all school networks, and provides protection from harmful and inappropriate online content that students may stumble upon. SonicWall’s CFS offers an extensive database for creating custom access policies that enhance online safety.

SonicWall’s Gen 7 next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) also support advanced networking features like SD-WAN, robust content filtering, dynamic routing, high availability and high-speed VPN functionality. Like the other tools we’ve mentioned here, these appliances provide a single-pane-of-glass interface to manage both switches and access points.

Future-proofing with Advanced Technology

Deploying the latest technology not only provides you with the most up-to-date and advanced protection, but it’s also the key to creating a sustainable and efficient network. Schools don’t need to completely overhaul what they have in place right now – they just need to implement thoughtful upgrades to critical components.

Upgrading things like wireless access points that support the latest standards like multi-gigabit 802.3ax, advanced firewall services, cloud protection and endpoint control helps you ensure that your network security is robust, efficient, and equipped to deal with the constantly evolving threat environment that plagues schools today.

Maximizing Impact and Value for K-12 Education

Advanced network solutions are the path forward in K-12, and the educational community as a whole must embrace these solutions in order to provide consistent and accessible digital experiences for students, staff and visitors. Tools like SonicWall’s Capture Security Center (CSC) can ensure the safety of your network in a package that’s easy to manage. And the adoption of 802.11ax for campus Wi-Fi can prepare your infrastructure for future technological advancements.

Beginning this upgrade path now provides benefits both for the present and future, all while fostering a learning environment where technology is seamlessly and safely integrated. The result will be a network that’s efficient and secure, and will be simpler and more cost-effective to upgrade in the future.

Loren Wiege
Senior Director - Global Enablement | SonicWall
Loren Wiege is the Senior Director - Global Enablement for SonicWall. Loren is an award-winning global channel sales leader, focused on ensuring above-target performance and driving multimillion-dollar growth. Loren has built his career at SonicWall, previously serving as Senior Director of Competitive Global Programs, Senior Sales Manager - Onboarding and Enablement, Enterprise Sales Manager and Channel Sales Manager for the eastern half of the United States during his decade-plus tenure. Loren holds degrees from Arizona State University, Bismarck State College and Westford College.