K-12 School District Turns to Prefab Data Center to Power its 21st Century Learning Initiatives

It’s no secret to any APC by Schneider Electric partner with experience in the education sector that schools tend to be price-sensitive. But that doesn’t mean they don’t recognize the value in innovative solutions that address real concerns.

The Moreno Valley Unified School District in Southern Calif. is a case in point. The district puts a premium on 21st century learning for the 34,000 students at its 40 schools.

“Technology in the Moreno Valley Unified School District (MVUSD) over the last few years has really transformed the district”, says Martinrex Kedziora, the district’s Superintendent, in this Schneider Electric Case Study video. “Teachers are using it, are comfortable with it and every student has a Chromebook.”

While its technology infrastructure grew over time, the district’s computer room –­ born out of a converted men’s room some 30 years ago – struggled to keep up. The room was subject to overheating and power outages, threatening the use of tools like Google classroom and other G-suite applications, project-based learning, and collaboration. Online standardized testing was another issue; an outage during testing times would have serious ramifications.

“We knew we needed a proper data center,” says Aaron Barnett, CISSP, Director Information Systems/Technology for the district. “But we did not have enough space, so we started to explore other options. Through this process, we determined that a free-standing prefabricated modular solution from Schneider Electric was the best fit.”

Aaron Barnett

Squeezed for space in its main administration building, the district was able to put the modular data center in an empty lot out back, next to its parking lot. It built a wall to surround the facility for security and dropped in the container.

Now the district has a full-fledged, reliable data center that houses seven IT racks, power distribution, cooling, fire suppression, security and monitoring. What’s more, a Symmetra N+1 UPS System and standby generator enables the data center to withstand any power disruptions. The data center is connected via fiber to all 40 schools in the district in a hub-and-spoke design.

Given its use of virtualization and cloud technologies, the district to date has filled fewer than three of the seven racks, leaving plenty of room for growth. As IT requirements increase, the district can also add power modules to the UPS frame, deferring any up-front capital investment.

MVUSD also implemented Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure on-premise data center infrastructure management (DCIM) solution, StruxureWare for Data Centers, to monitor, collect and manage real-time data on all data center assets, usage and operation status. Such data helps optimize performance on demand to meet the fluctuating needs of IT. (For more on the MVUSD project, download this case study.)

For APC partners, the takeaway here is that MVUSD implemented a state-of-the-art data center in a cost-effective manner. The solution met a challenge that’s common to K-12 systems – a lack of purpose-built, resilient data center space – with an innovative solution that also addressed the district’s power challenges and space constraints. What’s more, it was a partner – CDWG – through which MVUSD originally submitted its RFP; CDWG then brought in Schneider Electric.

Schools today are turning to technology in droves, both to take advantage of web-based resources and to keep up with mandates around online standardized testing. It stands to reason that more and more of them will be looking for innovative solutions like the one that’s serving MVUSD so well. That presents lots of opportunity for you as a partner to point these schools towards solutions that make sense for them. As we were for MVUSD, we’ll be here to help. To learn more about the K-12 opportunity, please click here.