Pine Cove Pulse

Room to grow: HP Networking portfolio for rural school districts

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

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With the state of Montana having a handful of increasingly populated towns and hundreds of smaller towns spread throughout, the difference in technological advances is vast. Small, eastern Montana towns often have a hard time enabling fast, quality networks and staying on top of the fast-paced evolution of technology. This is why Pine Cove Consulting (PCC) has a main focus on servicing small-town schools with innovative and affordable networking, so teachers and students don’t fall between the cracks when it comes to modern technology.

Pine Cove recently worked with two small-town schools, Colstrip and Sidney Public Schools. Both schools have issues with unpredictable enrollment, with Colstrip having a large energy industry and Sidney being a rich location for oil drilling and hydro fracturing. But often these towns see boom and bust enrollment figures that go along with the spikes and crashes of the oil and energy industries.

“Over the past couple of years, it’s been common for us to get between 70 and 100 new students per year, but by the end of the year, we’ll also lose between 70 and 100,” says Steve Yockim, technology director for Sydney Public Schools.

The volatility in enrollment makes it difficult for the two districts to rapidly build housing and services for new residents, let alone stay on top of offering a quality education to a rising and falling student population.

Work in Colstrip Public Schools
With a combination of coal and electricity as the main source of Colstrip’s wealth, energy trends make the town an unpredictable place to live. IT leaders at Colstrip Public Schools have struggled with finding ways to keep technology modernized, but not spend money on oversupplying students. Unfortunately, this is a reality that they couldn’t seem to get away from. The district’s network wasn’t designed to deliver the flexibility or scalability district leaders needed.

After attending a regional workshop featuring Pine Cove Consulting, the Colstrip superintendent was fascinated by Pine Cove’s seminar. “That workshop led to a five-year project and a great partnership,” said PCC Vice President Brandon Vancleeve. With PCC’s help, the school district soon redesigned its entire network.

Using VMware View and Devon IT’s VDI Blaster software, the district then introduced centralized desktop computing to teachers, students and support staff. They eventually added 300 virtualized desktops to its campuses. With a virtual desktop infrastructure in place, the IT team has the flexibility to scale the VDI solution to meet whatever demands may come. An affordable budget has made it possible for the district to add 100 virtual desktops at a time, with the end-goal of virtualizing every machine possible, so students and teachers can access information and applications from any device they bring.

These solutions have led to less security issues, fewer support tickets and interruptions in classrooms. VDI also increased efficiency for larger projects and upgrades, leading to better productivity for the small staff.

Work in Sidney Public Schools
Located in northeastern Montana, Sidney is a popular place for the farmers, ranchers and oil drilling. However, Sidney has recently spiked in population due to the hydraulic fracturing mining industry. This has led to major oil booms which, in turn, led to large peaks in student population, making it difficult for the district to keep up technologically.

“We know we need to be very smart about how we do this. We have to build a solution that will be incredibly flexible so it can scale rapidly, but we don’t want to overbuild it, either,” Steve Yockim says.

The district made the move to redesign the entire technology infrastructure, and turned to Pine Cove for help. The team rebuilt the entire data center, virtualizing and consolidating servers onto HP ProLiant BL460 Server Blades with hypervisor software from VMware.

The HP server blades are mounted in a modular HP BladeSystem c7000 Enclosure, which houses both the district’s virtualized application servers and its VDI solution, which delivers operating systems, applications and user settings for students, faculty, administrators, and support staff.

Among many other changes, Pine Cove Consulting was able to boost coverage by 50 percent, giving the district just under 100 percent coverage everywhere. The modernized server and storage pushed services at faster speeds and eliminated outages. The new wireless services now have the important flexibility to vary the number and type of wireless access points supported by the network. Because the district has built an HP Converged Infrastructure to virtualize delivery of end-user workspaces, those workspaces can follow the user from device to device without sacrificing a consistent compute experience.

“In five years, who knows what the technology landscape will look like? But I know the groundwork we’ve put in place can scale to handle whatever comes next,” says Yockim.

A Brighter Future
For both districts, creating a new infrastructure and advanced networking system has made new upgrades and updates possible. Almost all students now carry mobile devices, and the networks are now given the flexibility to handle BYOD accessibility. Students can walk between networks and hardly notice a difference. With PCC’s help, the schools can now have the fast, modernized technology without the fuss of constant, slow networking issues.

Having Pine Cove Consulting ready and available to help with upgrades, advancing technology the way the schools want has become a reality for the small districts. Pine Cove’s work with HP systems gave back time to staff so they can have a reliable, fast network that is easy to operate. And most importantly, the schools have the flexibility for the boom and bust of their student populations.

Download the Case Study today!

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Topics: networking, Pine Cove, 1:1 computing, BYOD

Apple becoming mass deployment friendly for BYOD districts

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

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Image source: Apple Deployment page. 

Apple's soon to be released iOS7 update will have new features that will excite IT administrators who are tasked with the responsibility of massive device and application deployments. This should help Apple become a more attractive choice for organizations and schools who are considering 1:1 or BYOD environments.  The changes are outlined in a series of documents Apple posted on its IT deployment page and include changes to its Device Enrollment Program, Volume Purchase Program and the Apple ID for Students.

The Volume Purchase Program allows the organization to buy apps in bulk through the VPP store and push them out to the devices under your umbrella via MDM.  Your faculty and students will have faster access to all the tools they need to enhance their teaching and learning experience.  You also get the added benefit of "Pricing for Education," where the app developer has enabled education pricing.  This special pricing is a 50% discount when purchasing apps in quantities of 20 or more.  The VPP program also gives you the ability to buy a wide variety of books from the iBooks Store to introduce some interactive learning to your institution.  When you buy apps and books in volume you will have the option to assign apps and books using third-party MDM solutions.  To take advantage of all these new and exciting VPP features, all your organization has to do is enroll, set up administrators, purchase and distribute desired apps and books.

The new iOS features built-in support for Apple and third party MDM solutions making it easier than ever before to manage all the Apple devices in your organization.  This enhancement streamlines deployments of any size so that teachers and students can take advantage of the device immediately.  With an MDM solution in place, IT administrators can securely enroll devices in an education environment, configure and update settings, set restrictions, and install apps.  The MDM framework in the new iOS allows third-party MDM solutions to interact wirelessly and was designed to be scalable enough to fully configure and manage all of your institution's devices.  This lightweight framework gives the administrator the ability to manage accounts, configurations and installation as well as the removal of apps.  Device queries and remote lock or wipe of a stolen device are also part of the iOS update.  Teachers can also take advantage of MDM to create the ideal teaching environment by temporarily limiting the iOS device to a single app all over a Wi-Fi connection.  This maximizes the effectiveness of the device in hand by ensuring your students are focusing on the task at hand.

All this points to Apple's commitment to make up ground in enterprise and educational markets by making their devices, apps and books easier to purchase, manage and install remotely.    

For indepth information visit 

More for education.

iOS 7 provides powerful new ways to configure and deploy devices across institutions and features to help schools purchase, distribute and manage apps with ease. App Store license management, seamless enrollment in mobile device management (MDM) and single sign on are just some of the capabilities in iOS 7 that make it ideal for education.

 Managed distribution.

The Volume Purchase Program (VPP) for Education now offers institutions the ability to assign apps to users while retaining ownership and control. Institutions purchase apps through the VPP store, and can use their MDM solution to assign apps to users over the air. Users can enroll with their personal Apple IDs without providing it to their institution, and apps are placed in their purchase history for self-service download, or are installed automatically via MDM. Apps can be revoked at any time and reassigned to other students. In addition to iOS apps, VPP now also supports the purchase of Mac apps and even books, so students can be provided all the tools they need to get their work done. 
Learn more

 New MDM options.

The MDM protocol in iOS 7 includes a number of new commands, queries, and configuration options that make third-party MDM solutions even more powerful. Wirelessly set up managed apps, control which accounts and apps can open certain documents, configure accessibility options and AirPrint printers, and restrict changes to accounts. Teachers can remotely lock or unlock iOS devices into a specific app, such as an assessment app, ensuring that all students are on the same activity at the same time. 
Learn more about mobile device management

 Single sign on.

Authenticating into your institution’s apps is now as simple as doing it once. Single sign on (SSO) means user credentials can be used across apps. Each new app configured with SSO is able to verify the user is allowed access to institutional resources and login without requiring them to enter their password again.


AirDrop allows users to transfer photos, videos, or documents between iOS devices making it easy for teachers and students to collaborate. Users just tap the Share icon within an app and select the person they want to share with. AirDrop does the rest using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Transfers are encrypted, so all their work is highly secure.

 Enhancements for Apple TV.

New management options aren’t just for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Now Apple TV can also be enrolled in MDM, allowing configuration of settings like Wi-Fi and default language. iOS devices can be pre-configured with AirPlay destinations using configuration profiles. And MDM can prompt a student to mirror their screen on a specific Apple TV, so teachers can easily put their work on the big screen.

 Enroll students of all ages in iTunes U, iCloud and more.Coming soon

Students with Apple ID can have an enhanced personal experience with access to great online services like iTunes U, iCloud backup, and the ability to receive licenses in the new Volume Purchase Program. And now schools will have a program to facilitate Apple obtaining verifiable parental consent for personal Apple IDs for students under age 13.

 Caching Server 2 supports iOS 7.

Caching Server 2 speeds the download and delivery of content through the App Store, Mac App Store, iTunes Store and iBooks Store. By caching purchased content on an institution’s OS X Mavericks Server, your students and faculty get faster downloads of all their content including software updates, directly to their iOS 7 devices. 
Learn more

Topics: 1:1 computing, BYOD, Apple

The window to file your E-Rate 470 application was closed Feb 27th

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

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While the education sector is long on initiatives, 1:1, BYOD, ConnectEd and Common Core to name a few, it always seems to be short on funding. Putting the most advanced technology in the hands of our students and teachers to be used as tools to improve student outcomes is ideal, but expensive. The only thing more expensive is the realization that your district does not have the infrastructure in place to support the bandwidth requirements of these new learning tools. Experts still say that fiber-optic cable is the “gold standard” for providing schools with high-speed connections to the Internet. Before you put today's technology in the hands of your students, invest in tomorrow’s infrastructure.

The President's ConnectEd initiative has made more funds available to the E-Rate program than ever before. The window to file your E-Rate 470 application was closed on February 26th 2014. Don't miss out on an amazing opportunity to leverage the federal E-Rate program to finance dedicated broadband access for your school district. The fiber optic bandwidth provided by a new district wide network, begins at 1GB Ethernet, extending to 400GB and jumping to dark fiber.

Sound too good to be true? Fatbeam, has set its eyes on doing just this. By partnering with school districts, to leverage the federal E-Rate program, Fatbeam can provide real bandwidth in rural markets benefiting not only the schools but the community at large. The company targets communities with populations between 20,000 and 100,000, where the incumbent carrier has not made a significant infrastructure investment.

Butte School District, in Butte, MT is a great example of this partnership. As part of a 10-year contract, the Butte district will pay to lease the new “lit” fiber for a total of $14,000 per month. Sixty one percent of which will be covered by federal E-rate funds. The local college, library, and government facilities will receive similar service. By utilizing Fatbeam with E-Rate funds, the Butte District was able to dramatically increase it's bandwidth while cutting its bill in half. Fatbeam has done similar work in 19 markets across Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming.

Fatbeam, is a Competitive Access Provider delivering data transport services to customers in underserved markets of the Western U.S. The company installs fiber throughout smaller markets such as Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Yakima, Washington, after first obtaining a commitment from the local school district to use the fiber. The company also makes sure to connect to the closest Internet point of presence and runs fiber through the towns’ business district. Then they sell connectivity on a wholesale basis to other providers, who use the infrastructure to deliver Internet service and in some cases to support fiber-to-the-home deployments.

With a dedicated Fatbeam network, you will have access to the "gold standard" of connectivity, which will exceed your bandwidth needs. This removes one major obstacle on the road to using technology as a tool to change a student’s trajectory, by ensuring there are no limits on the pace of which each student can learn.

Topics: 1:1 computing, BYOD, E-Rate's Interview with Brandon Vancleeve Discussing Portal & Cloud Computing

Posted by Tyler Wantulok



With our continual pursuit to be a leader in portal and cloud computing in education, we were contacted by to give some insight on what we believe portal computing is and where the industry is going.  Join us for this quick Q&A and please provide your insight and comments below.  --Brandon Vancleeve

1) Brandon, first of all could you tell us about your education and experience.

I have a BS in Secondary Education with a Social Studies Broadfield Degree. Twenty five percent of our employees have Education degrees. I have worked with Pine Cove since the day I graduated from college. Being a family business, I had interest in following my dad’s footsteps, but it also allowed me to still work with schools, teachers and students, which is a big passion of mine.

2) Now currently, what exactly do you do to help schools and the learning process?

Pine Cove is an IT Consulting Company that provides consultation to school districts in the Northwest. From long range planning to full IT Support, we partner with our schools to create sustainable, long range IT initiatives. Included in that service are assessments, project planning, solution design, implementation and support.

3) Now- what exactly do YOU mean by Portal Based Technology? And does this term have different meanings to different people?

Our vision of Portal Based Computing is designed around a “Device Agnostic” strategy of providing portal access to dissimilar or similar equipment to allow students and faculty reliable, fast computing environments for optimal technology based learning. We want our schools to feel empowered to use whatever device best suits their specific classroom, school, and district needs, and we will provide the portal to that device or devices.

4) The abbreviation BYOD seems to permeate education–but realistically, not every single student has an ipad or i phone or even a cell phone and lap top. Are some of these tech leaders “jumping the gun” here? I have a student who jokingly told me they still use Millenium Edition on their home computer.( and it works just fine, thank you very much )

This is exactly where the Portal Computing comes into play. We cannot expect every kid to have or to purchase similar equipment (or any equipment). So, we are telling our schools “It doesn’t matter”. We will connect any device to the portal, allowing every student to have an equal playing field and every teacher to have a similar environment to teach to.

Imagine being a teacher these days and working in a BYOD environment where you have 10 different devices and 4 different Operating Systems in a single classroom. That is an impossible task.

5) I like apps. I think they can be useful and helpful in many realms and professions. However, how much time should be spent on them, and how useful are they to the actual learning process?

In our opinion, the apps are as useful as the teacher using them. The apps cannot drive the learning. The teacher does that and will always do that. There and millions of apps out there, and many of them are amazing, but the ultimate challenge is how to incorporate those apps into my lesson plan, my unit, and my common core requirements.

6) Now, let’s talk about the term some do not want to talk about – the “app gap”. What about those poor poverty stricken students, operating on a Pell grant and Ramen noodles who can’t afford all this technology?

The “B” in BYOD can stand for different things. While most the time we are talking about “bringing” your device, sometimes we might be “borrowing” a device. If we are operating in a 1:1 environment, we are crazy to think every kid will have their own device, remember their own device or even use the same throughout a school year. The district must hold a “pool” of devices that kids can use permanently or temporarily to ensure fairness and equal access to all students. By using portal access technology, it doesn’t matter if they are on their own device one day and a school issued device the next. The device is just an access point to their working environment.

7) I see it all the time– students on computers, playing computer games—are instructors simply not assigning enough homework? Or do some students just have bad habits?

In my opinion, that is the just the way of the world these days. Kids still have and need “free time”. They are just using that time differently than when you or I went to school. Their lives are based around instant access and multiple-sensory engagement. Why not embrace that? I’m not saying kids should be on an electronic device 24×7, but I think trying to pull that away from them completely is not the answer.

8) Increasingly, the schools are seeing more and more kids with exceptionalities, disabilities and health impairments. Teachers are poorly trained to make modifications for these kids- How does your organization help?

Our role lies in the computing environment, and that is where we try to make a difference. Our goal is to not limit the speed in which a student can learn with their technology devices. By providing fast and reliable computing environments, we can empower ALL students to work at the speed and productivity they are capable of.

9) The one thing I hear from teachers is that they have no time to learn the newest technology and the learning curve is quite large for these individuals. Your thoughts?

We 100% agree with this problem and concern of our teachers. They are not gaining any time in their days to be able to keep up with the changing world of Educational Technology resources. The teachers that I have seen have the most success with this issue are the teachers that understand and are comfortable with the fact that their students know more about the technology than they do, and they embrace it. These kids have a wealth of technical knowledge and we need to learn the balance of empowering them to drive technology usage, while still maintaining control of the classroom.

10) Where do these clickers fit into the big curriculum picture? Valuable asset or time wasting tool?

We believe that each student’s individual device needs to be able to do everything for them. Our opinion is that these response tools need be able to be performed from their everyday device and not be a separate piece of equipment.

11) Different platforms- result in different stressors- True or False- and how do you cope with this dilemma?

True, different platforms grow different stressors exponentially. Imagine being a teacher using technology and teaching to 10 different devices from 4 different platforms. It would be a nightmare. Our resolution to this goes back to the portal. Take the existing platform and device out of the equation and provide 1 platform with all of my needed tools. Students are playing on an equal playing field, and teachers are teaching to one environment.

12) Text messages- in the big scheme of things – how important are they?

They are not important if they are not used the right way and the safe way. If text messaging is used for classroom response and interaction, it can be a useful tool. I think too often we blame the technology for disruption and breaches in child security and protection, but what did we do before technology? Before text messaging, kids passed notes but did we blame the pencil and paper or did we blame the student and the supervision in the setting?

13) You and I know that some instructors still Power Point their students to death. Does Power Point still have a place or does it go the way of the edsel (which you may have to explain, since the current generation probably doesn’t have the background knowledge to understand the metaphor)?

I think it still does have an important place in classroom presentation, but it needs to be used as an additional resource and not as a crutch. Students want to be engaged with multiple things at the same time. They are the best multitaskers in the world, so let’s use Power Point or other presentation tools to help provide multiple engagement tools to these kids that are asking for that.

14) Cloud computing–provide our readers with your understanding and usage of this in the current school situation.

If you asked 20 people their definition of cloud computing, you would get 20 different answers. Our stance on cloud computing is that it is the future, but the path in which each district gets there can be much different. At Pine Cove, we try to balance the Public and Private Cloud. What makes sense to manage in the local district’s data center? What can be pushed off site? In our area of the world, bandwidth is limited and pushing all computing outside of the district is not an option for many of our districts.

15) One to one instruction- say violin, cello, flute—is this becoming a lost art ? Or a realm of dinosaurs?

One to One instruction is actually becoming more common with the use of technology. Students from anywhere in the world can get access to specialists through the use of distance learning tools. Students are no longer limited to the resources they have at their individual school or district.

To learn more click below:

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By Michael F. Shaughnessy 

Topics: cloud, 1:1 computing, BYOD

Cisco Partner Network Study Sheds Light on BYOD Impacts on Users and the Enterprise

Posted by Tyler Wantulok

There has been a lot written about the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomena and how it is reshaping how we work and spend our leisure time. There’s even been some space invested in the fact that BYOD is a major driver behind the blurring of the distinction between the two in our 24/7/365 always on and all ways connected world. 

That said, there remains some interesting questions as to BYOD, regarding how much and how often our smartphones and tablets are used for work, whether end users believe their companies are ready for BYOD, and how many companies are helping employees purchase such devices. 

The good news is a network of Cisco partners set out to find answers to all of these questions, and a few more, and the results of their interviews with 1,000 consumers (spearheaded by Cisco partner firm Pine Cove of Billings, MT) about mobility and their employers BYOD policies, are now available. Reader alert! There are some surprises here.

BYOD is shaking things up in enterprises

Let’s get right to the highlights:

  • 62 percent of U.S. employees who use their own smartphone for work do so everyday
  • 92 percent of U.S. employees who use their smartphones for work did so this week
  • Only 6 percent of workers say their employers paid for the smartphone outright with 3 percent saying they get a stipend and 11 percent saying they get a small reimbursement
  • 84 percent of employees report their employers would not replace their personal devices if lost or broken even though an almost equal percentage uses their personal device for work purposes
  • 39 percent of workers who use personal smartphones for work don’t password protect
  • 52 percent access unsecured WiFi networks
  • 69 percent of BYODers are expected to access work emails after hours
  • Only 46 percent believe their employers are prepared for any issues that could arise from BYOD

Here are just two graphics from the report that illustrate the challenges BYOD presents, and give a flavor of BYOD by industry sector.

Source: © Cisco mConceirge 2013

Source: © Cisco mConceirge 2013

In a word, YIKES! We are all on our own basically for the purchase of our personal device, use them increasingly for work and have extended when and how we work by using BYOD “after hours.” In addition, we seem to be relatively lax in terms of our securing them when they’re in an work mode (i.e., are creating a nightmare for IT by bypassing them through remote and WiFi use and the lack of password protection), and believe our employers are not capable of protecting themselves from our use of such devices even, as we are tacitly encouraged to use them for a variety of reasons.

Plus, the context for all of this is that the number of adults who report having a smartphone jumped 12 percent in 2012 according to the Pew Center. And, as the report correctly points out, “As that number grows and more Americans return to the workforce in the recovery from the Recession, BYOD will cause security breakdowns and cost companies money…Knowing some of your employee’ smartphone habits can help you prepare to mitigate the impact of those events.” 

In short, while we are still early into the learning curve of the impact that BYOD can have on users as well as enterprises – and the costs and benefits of BYOD proliferation – the impacts in just a very short period of time are profound. 

It should be noted that all of this will be the subject of a TMC special event, “SecureIT: Protecting Your Enterprise in a BYOD World,” that will be taking place July 23, 2013 at the NYU Kimmel Center, New York, NY. Mark your calendars to save the date. Program details will be available in the next few days on this topic that has everyone looking for information and answers.  

Original Article 
Article Written by Peter Bernstein, Senior Editor
Edited by Braden Becker

Topics: BYOD