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Hutto ISD Bond Funds Technology Infrastructure Advancements

HUTTO, Texas — The use of technology and the internet in public education has become an expectation and is critical to help prepare students for the world they live in and for their future careers.

Hutto ISD has leveraged the bond projects approved by voters in 2019 to upgrade the District’s technology infrastructure to provide a solution that is more robust, decreases the possibility of outages and service disruptions, and scales the District’s IT infrastructure for future growth.

Among the latest advancements as of November 2023, Hutto ISD’s new internet connection increased its bandwidth to 5 GB — more than double the speed of the District’s prior internet connection — and has the capability to increase bandwidth further in the future.

“With the old internet connection removed, the old data center is now no longer in use. With the new internet connection, we have already seen actual bandwidth utilization higher than before, and have received comments from people that it seems more responsive,” said Oestreicher. “The increased bandwidth enables us to support online testing even when most students are doing it simultaneously, multimedia content, and other internet applications even as Hutto ISD continues to quickly grow in size.”

The new internet connection for Hutto ISD was slated to be installed during summer 2022, but delays in the fiber construction delayed this project until fall 2023. This new internet connection is located at the new data center and provides for the extra resiliency that the new center offers.

In 2020, Hutto ISD implemented a new fiber wide area network (WAN). The WAN connects all of the District’s campuses and other locations to the District Data Center.

“This new WAN design added resiliency with dual fiber paths for every location within the District,” said David Oestreicher, Hutto ISD’s Director of Technology & Digital Learning. “The new WAN helps to eliminate service disruptions, and in the event a fiber is cut, the other connection for a campus will automatically continue to provide connectivity.

“The large amount of construction within the City of Hutto has resulted in fiber cuts multiple times since the new WAN implementation, but the affected schools had no impact and many were not even aware there was an issue with connectivity.”

To offset costs for Hutto ISD’s taxpayers, federal E-rate funds covered a large portion of the initial WAN installation and toward the District’s recurring costs to maintain the infrastructure.

The implementation of a more robust and resilient primary District Data Center was another important Bond project that has been completed, thanks to Hutto ISD’s voters. The new Data Center is located in the Hutto ISD Transportation Facility — a capital project that was also built with 2019 Bond funds.

Although the pandemic caused delays in construction and technology equipment delivery, the new District Data Center was completed and began service in summer 2022, replacing the former infrastructure that was a regular room repurposed into a data center.

“Hutto ISD’s new data center provides enterprise-grade climate control, backup power units for clean electricity, and a more resilient generator,” said Oestreicher. “At the same time, the server infrastructure was upgraded to robust hardware with a more efficient design.”

In addition, a smaller disaster recovery room was constructed at Farley Middle School as part of the 2019 Bond projects. This important IT infrastructure site is a smaller version of the main data center and provides rapid recovery in the event of a major data loss localized at the Hutto ISD Transportation Facility.

“In the unlikely event of a larger scale disaster that also resulted in the loss of the disaster recovery site, a copy of back-ups is also kept in a secure cloud location,” Oestreicher explained. “The full implementation of the disaster recovery site occurred in winter 2023.”

Additional technology infrastructure projects are forthcoming, thanks to Hutto ISD’s voters authorizing the latest 2023 Bond proposals, as well as the purchase of and replacement of instructional technology for Hippo Nation’s students.