The Time is Ripe to Sell K-12 Schools on Proper Power Protection, Racks and Enclosures

Anyone who sells IT gear into the K-12 market has encountered a scenario something like this. You ask to see the server room in a school and are escorted to a room that looks like anything but, maybe a janitor’s closet. There you see all kinds of IT equipment – routers, wireless gear, a server – sitting on shelves, with a nest of wires and probably plenty of dust. Or maybe the equipment is stashed in the corner of a classroom, one of the few that happens to have air conditioning.k-12Image-300x200

As APC by Schneider Electric partners, you know this is no way to treat IT equipment. With more and more schools investing in technology initiatives, arming students with tablets, laptops and Chromebooks, it’s more important than ever that they take proper care of the gear that enables these devices to communicate with one another and with the Internet.

If a school is spending $300,000 on a variety of networking and server gear, it only makes sense to spend another $10,000 on proper racks, power and cooling products to protect it. But such infrastructure, which may be taken for granted in a corporate data center, may not even be on the radar of IT folks in a K-12 setting – if there’s a dedicated IT person at all. That puts you as a trusted reseller partner in a position to guide customers to the sorts of products that will protect the investments they’re making.

The trick is to ask a simple question when a school is buying new gear: “How are you going to protect this equipment?” It’s the reseller equivalent of, “Would you like fries with that burger?” There’s a decent chance your customer won’t have a sound answer, or a less than complete plan. That gives you an entry to pitch a number of products, including the following.

Power protection: As they continue to outfit students with mobile computing devices, K-12 schools are also making increasing use of online resources such as Google Docs. That means they need to protect the routers, switches and other equipment that supports their Internet connection. If that connection goes down and students can’t get at the resources they need, it can thwart teachers’ plans for the day, just as it would hamper productivity in a corporate environment.

Similarly, most schools have certain applications that need to be online all the time, such as the security tools that ensure safety on the Web and enable administrators to ensure students aren’t surfing where they shouldn’t be.

UPS systems, of course, offer just the kind of protection schools need to keep students online even during power hiccups. Depending on where the school is, those hiccups can be frequent, such as this Alabama district that sees 22 lightning storms per month in the summer.

That district uses Schneider Electric Smart-UPS units to protect its network switching gear. Chances are, you can find a Smart-UPS model that will be suitable for most any K-12 application, as they come in various sizes and are tailored to provide backup for servers, routers, switches, hubs and other network devices.

Racks and enclosures: Every school needs at least one rack to hold the routers, switches, storage units, servers and whatever else it may have on hand. Educate your customers on why stacking such equipment on shelves in a storage closet is risky, because it doesn’t offer the ventilation the equipment needs nor the physical security it requires.

Often times schools do not have a proper server room or wiring closet, or any dedicated space for IT equipment. In such instances, the NetShelter CX may make sense, the so-called “server room in a box.” These self-contained units enable schools to house everything they need in an attractive enclosure that’s suitable for installing in any room, even a classroom. They are lockable (read: secure), virtually soundproof and include fans for self-ventilation. The NetShelter CX looks like just another piece of furniture and comes in various sizes, from 18U to 38U.

E-rate eligible: Don’t forget to remind customers that any racks, UPSs and power distribution products they may purchase are eligible for reimbursement under the federal E-Rate Program. Depending on the district, the customer may be eligible to receive anywhere from a 40% to 90% reimbursement on racks and power products.

The timing is certainly right to have these discussions as spring is when schools typically decide what they’re going to buy for the coming year so they can procure the equipment and install it over the summer months. At the same time, partners may be eligible for discounts that APC by Schneider Electric is offering on some product, click here to learn more.

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