New Team Members Join Growing Network Operations Center

The Network Operations Center (NOC) and Project Services team at Questeq supports customer sites as part of our Educational Technology Management (ETM) service. We provide three classes of service:

  • Preventative such as server maintenance and network monitoring
  • Reactive by resolving tickets submitted to the NOC by Questeq onsite team members
  • Transformative by implementing project requests for servers; storage area networks; switches; wireless; Office365; Google for Education; and backup / recovery just to name a few.

Prior to the 2016-17 school year, the NOC added more engineering talent to address the peak summer project season. Michael Lipnicky, Jason Allen and Curtis Smithley recently joined Keith Brant, Mark Wolfe, and Mike Miller. The new team members are quickly becoming familiar with Questeq processes and technology at our customer sites.

Looking forward, Questeq anticipates adding several more school districts to our customer list this year. The new team members will help maintain and grow our high level of customer support to both existing and new sites.

Now that the summer rush is over, Project Services is currently working with several of our districts on the following projects.

  • Technical design for the 2017-18 school year E-rate bids
  • Migrating to Gmail and G Suite for Education (formally Google Apps)
  • Implementing inTune and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM)
  • Moving on premise servers such domain controllers and email to the Microsoft Cloud

These are only a few of the projects and ongoing support that the NOC and Project Services provides to all of our ETM sites located throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Questeq ETM E-rate Planning & Submission Services

The E-rate program has provided discounted telecommunications and information services to eligible schools and libraries since the late 1990’s. In 2014, to catch up with the rapidly changing technology landscape, the FCC issued an E-rate Modernization Order. For the first time in over a decade, the vast majority of school districts and libraries are able to take advantage of substantial discounts for wired and wireless connectivity projects.

At Questeq, Project Services provides our customers consulting services to get the most value from the E-Rate funds available to them. In addition to assisting with category one services, our team provides the initial planning and research needed to apply for category two funding. Learn about category one and category two eligible services here.

Our team performs an in-depth site visit and creates a plan for optimal wireless and wired placement within the school building. Wiring closets are also analyzed to determine wiring and equipment needs. We then provide the planning and needs assessment to our Questeq technology directors so time isn’t taken away from their daily duties. In addition, we also provide E-rate consulting and submission services so our team can manage the whole process for our districts.

There is plenty of funding available for the 2016-17 school year. The deadline has past to apply for 2015-16 but it’s not too late to start planning for 16-17 funding. Here is a typical timeline:

  • In late November, file a Form 470¹ . This is a notice that the district intends to purchase goods or services from an eligible E-rate provider.
  • Prepare and distribute a Request for Proposal (RFP). This typically includes advertising the opportunity to bid in local newspapers.
  • Budget for the district’s fair share, that is, the portion of the project not subsidized by E-rate.
  • Open bids at least 28 days after the RFP has been released.
  • Select the vendor of choice using price as the most significant evaluation criteria.
  • Negotiate a contract.
  • Obtain administration approval.
  • Obtain Board approval, usually at the February Board meeting.
  • File Form 471² , the request for funding. The deadline for this filing is usually around March 15th.

If you are a Questeq customer and would like to utilize Project Services for E-rate planning and submission please contact us today.

To learn more about E-rate and the modernization order, click here.

¹The Description of Services Requested and Certification Form is an FCC form that schools and libraries complete to request services and establish eligibility. The completed form is posted to USAC’s website for potential bidders to review, which opens the competitive bidding process for services desired that are eligible for discounts under the E-rate Program.
²The Services Ordered and Certification Form is an FCC form that schools and libraries use to report services ordered and discounts requested for those services.

Developing Technology Refresh Plans

The Project Services team at Questeq provides proactive infrastructure management for customer sites that have contracted with Questeq to manage their technology program.

Every fall, we work with our site Technology Directors to develop infrastructure refresh plans and budgets that meet the needs of each individual district. The types of technology reviewed in this refresh include servers, backup/recovery solutions, switching, wireless solutions and other network infrastructure. Technology refresh plans are essential due to lapsing warranties, end of life support for older systems and declining performance of existing hardware and infrastructure.

The goal of each refresh plan is to move districts towards a more proactive approach for keeping technology current and performing well. This proactive approach allows districts to be prepared for the inevitable need to upgrade hardware and infrastructure over time. Once established, the refresh plan can easily be adjusted as district needs and initiatives change.

Including the infrastructure refresh projects starting this fall, Project Services currently has 95 pending projects, 52 of which are in the design or implementation phase. The projects include anything from mobile device management to Office 365 implementation, reducing the number of servers a district needs in-house by moving essential services to the cloud.

Becoming a VMware Solution Provider

Due to the growing number of customers that are moving towards VMware software, our Project Services team is in the process of becoming a VMware Solution Provider. We are working towards the Professional partnership level that allows us to resell VMware products and services directly to our customers.

Our team is excited to provide these valuable products and services to our customer sites in the very near future. We will provide more information about the partnership once we meet all of the certifications and requirements.