Pleasanton Unified School District Replaces Cisco with SonicWALL Next-Generation Firewalls and Content Filtering

Share Article

Bay Area school district secures network and increases available bandwidth.

SonicWALL helped optimize our network and easily doubled our throughput. Our uptime is 100 percent with the high availability configuration - Gary Hicklin, director of IT at Pleasanton Unified School District

In a time when the security of student data, records, and faculty information is paramount, a Bay Area school district decided to thoroughly protect its network and provide web content filtering for its 15,900 students and employees. Pleasanton Unified School District supports an extensive network of nine elementary schools, three middle schools, two high schools and one continuation high school. With the deployment of a SonicWALL® E-Class NSA E7500 Next-Generation Firewall solution in High Availability mode, the Northern California school district optimized bandwidth utilization, doubling its throughput. The school district now has the ability to ensure application control and intrusion prevention, as well as centralized policy management for all of its students and employees.

Pleasanton replaced its legacy stateful Cisco® firewalls and Lightspeed Systems® content filtering with the SonicWALL NSA E7500 Next-Gen Firewall and Integrated Content Filtering Service solution. As a result of the growing ‘Bring Your Own Device’ trend, the school district was challenged by the influx of student mobile devices accessing the network, hindering its bandwidth and the performance of web-based curricular applications. As part of its curriculum, Pleasanton leverages web applications such as Google Apps™, Skype™ and Adobe® Connect™ for collaboration and educational purposes which made bandwidth management capabilities a key requirement.

“We really weren’t getting what you would expect out of our 100 MB of bandwidth,” said Gary Hicklin, director of IT at Pleasanton Unified School District. “During peak school hours it was more like 45 MB. The Cisco box was difficult to administer. This was problematic given constrained IT department resources and funding cutbacks. We also found that the Lightspeed box was not robust enough for our needs. We knew if we had a hardware failure, it was going to be a disaster.”

After evaluating solutions from Fortinet®, Barracuda® and SonicWALL, the school district selected and deployed paired SonicWALL NSA E7500 Next-Generation Firewalls in High Availability mode. Pleasanton also replaced its Lightspeed content filtering with SonicWALL Content Filtering Service (CFS). SonicWALL CFS helps educational institutions enforce their productivity and protection policies and block inappropriate, illegal and dangerous web content. With CFS, K-12 school districts can meet the compliance requirements of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and receive E-Rate funding.

“SonicWALL helped optimize our network and easily doubled our throughput. As soon as we put in the SonicWALL, we were getting 90 MB of bandwidth which was significant for us. Our uptime is 100 percent with the high availability configuration,” said Hicklin. “The visualization functionality gives us a much better picture of what is happening on our network in real time. We are now seeing who is attacking us, how and at what times.”

Continued Hicklin: “The SonicWALL technical support team has been absolutely brilliant. They have gone out of their way to patiently walk me through issues and make sure we’re doing things correctly.”

In addition to the increase in uptime and bandwidth, Pleasanton Unified School District can prioritize traffic for curricular-based applications, while throttling the amount of traffic going back to Facebook and other non-education-critical sites. As the district continues to grow, the NSA E7500 scales to meet its expanding needs. Combining SonicWALL Reassembly-Free Deep Packet Inspection® (RFDPI) with a multi-core platform, the solution can be configured to analyze and control thousands of unique applications, whether unencrypted or encrypted with SSL. As an inline solution, the NSA E7500 leverages existing infrastructure while adding an extra layer of network security and visibility. As a security gateway, it adds secure remote access, high availability, content filtering, application traffic analytics, centralized policy management with real-time monitoring metrics and other features.

For more news on Dynamic Security and Next-Generation Networks, follow SonicWALL on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

About Pleasanton Unified School District
Pleasanton has a proud history of support for its public schools, which were established in 1867, before the city was incorporated. Today, Pleasanton Unified School District serves approximately 14,800 students in nine elementary schools, three middle schools, two comprehensive high schools, and one continuation high school.

About SonicWALL, Inc.
Guided by its vision of Dynamic Security for the Global Network, SonicWALL develops advanced intelligent network security and data protection solutions that adapt as organizations evolve and as threats evolve. Trusted by small and large enterprises worldwide, SonicWALL solutions are designed to detect and control applications and protect networks from intrusions and malware attacks through award-winning hardware, software and virtual appliance-based solutions. For more information, visit

Copyright © 2012 SonicWALL, Inc. All rights reserved. SonicWALL® is a registered trademark of SonicWALL, Inc. and all other SonicWALL product and service names and slogans are trademarks or registered trademarks of SonicWALL, Inc. Other product and company names mentioned herein may be trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Jock Breitwieser
(408) 800-5625
Email >

Kristen Leon
Bond PR
(415) 848-2626
Email >
Follow us on
Visit website