Albany Junior High School
(AJHS) New Zealand,
IT School of the Future Boosts Internet Security with
About Albany Junior High School (AJHS), Education
Albany Junior High School (AJHS) is the first purpose-built Junior High School (for years 7
to 10 and 11 to 15 year olds) in New Zealand. AJHS is designed philosophically and
structurally to identify and cater specifically for, the needs of the emerging adolescent. As a
Century school ICT is integrated across the curriculum and AJHS strives to stay at the
leading edge of advances in ICT.
The network covered sensitive
information which was under
constant threat from spyware and
DoS attacks. So they needed a
strong Firewall solution.
Mr. Darren Spilling
Albany Junior High School
The school‘s previous firewall and VPN solution was aging and was due to become end of
line technology. To 'force' an upgrade, the vendors had stated that the support costs for the
old technology were about to become extremely expensive. The previous solution also had
limited Active Directory integration and it was not possible to enforce web filtering to the
user level. Its blanket set of rules made creating exceptions difficult and time-consuming.
Speed was also a significant problem for AJHS. With the advent of school-wide use of
Google Apps for email and portfolios of student work, AJHS had upgraded their Internet
connection to 100Mbps. However, the previous firewall and VPN solution could only offer a
speed of 17Mbps with all security services switched on. The school also had a separate
appliance for SSL VPN and a web proxy and these had their own set of support and
subscription costs. Maintaining a slow and expensive system made increasingly less sense.
Change was lead by AJHS Deputy Principal and IT Director Darren Spilling. “After
discussing the issue with the Board of Trustees, we decided to examine the market and to
look for a solution that could offer VPN, web proxy, filtering and firewall services as one
appliance,” he says. “We wanted granular control down to the individual user level and the
ability to achieve our full Internet speed with all security services applied. It was also
important for the solution to be future proof and to offer support for all platforms and mobile
The Cyberoam Solution
The school gave various vendors the opportunity to tender for a new solution that could
deliver all of its requirements for cross platform support, high speed Internet, security and
granular bandwidth and filtering controls to the individual user level from one appliance. It
was an expectation that each vendor would be able to quote for the unit including five years
of security subscriptions and support. “We also expected that the vendors involved would
be able to demonstrate that the unit could provide all of this in our environment,” Spilling
- Upgrading with SnapperNet
The tender was eventually given to SnapperNet, who installed a new Cyberoam system in
conjunction with reseller Sentinel Technologies.
Spilling praises the level of support SnapperNet‘s Solutions Consultant technician Byron
Paul provided. “Byron's level of technical skill and his level of dedication to meeting our
requirements with the right model of Cyberoam for our needs was impressive,” he says.
“Byron was provided with a copy of all of our firewall rules and implemented these on a
demonstration unit. He spent a considerable amount of time with us so that we could test
all of the capabilities of the Cyberoam.”
- A Future-Proofed Junior School
AJHS now has over 1300 users, including 1200 students and over 100 staff, connecting to
their firewall / VPN from Apple, Linux and Windows machines plus portable devices such as
iPads and Android devices. Their costs are now fixed for the next 5 years and they are
achieving a significant saving by no longer paying separate subscriptions for VPN and proxy.
“It‘s a complicated system, and SnapperNet‘s technical skills have been invaluable for
allowing us to leverage its full capabilities,” Spilling says.
The new system meets the school‘s current needs but also puts it in an enviable position to
successfully manage a fast-changing future. “Within 5 years we believe that the majority of
our students will bring a smart phone, tablet or laptop device to school and the Cyberoam
system will meet our need to provide network and Internet connectivity to all of them,” says
Spilling. “These technologies have the potential to deeply enrich our students‘ learning
experiences. We want to encourage them to use these devices, and now we can, because
with our Cyberoam system we can carefully manage what they are able to access at
“We have also made a commitment to using Google Apps as our primary productivity suite
for at least 5 years and now that we are able to achieve the full speed of our Internet
connection, this has been a success,” says Spilling. “Students can now access their work on
any platform and at any time and we are no longer tied to a specific operating system.
Hence, we are installing Linux on our older machines and using the capabilities of the
Cyberoam system to control access.”
Teachers and other staff members are also benefiting from the new system. “From a staff
perspective, having a more streamlined and versatile VPN makes a big difference,” he says.
“If they have Apple or Linux equipment at home they can now use the VPN, whereas before
Windows would have been their only choice.
With the system‘s granular control and its ability to customize access for each user, the
school can give each user the exact type of internet access required for their unique needs.
“We‘ve given expanded access, for example, to our Tech Team, a group of select students
who help staff and their fellow classmates with IT support, and test new features,” Spilling
- Commitment to Service
SnapperNet, Sentinel and the school all worked closely to install the new system and getting
it to run perfectly. “I must say that Byron and SnapperNet have been incredibly helpful and
have shown a commitment to us that is rare these days,” Spilling says. “We really do
appreciate their help in achieving our aims.”