Hutto ISD Embraces a New Generation of Security While Offering New Digital Experiences to Students

Hutto Independent School District is one of the fastest growing public school districts in Hutto, Texas. With over 7,000 students and 1,000 staff members, it is growing at about five percent a year and welcomes approximately 300 new students each year. However, with the surge in enrollment and the increase in digital classroom initiatives, Hutto ISD needed to address some underlying concerns.

After being faced with a wide array of uncontrollable ransomware attacks and threats, Hutto ISD had to treat its own internal network as potentially hostile. There was a constant struggle between buckling down on security while also providing students with an accessible learning environment.

Internal audits soon revealed that the district needed to modernize its data center infrastructure to be more secure and HIPAA and FERPA compliant, while addressing critical security gaps. It also had to transform security without increasing its existing IT team of nine.  

Embracing a New Generation of Security

To ensure the school meets the needs of its students and adapts to the quick growth rate, Hutto ISD deployed VMware products such as AppDefense and VMware NSX in a proactive effort to modernize its data center infrastructure to become disaster resilient and to reduce unknown threats.

With VMware solutions, Hutto ISD was finally able to satisfy its business concerns and needs. AppDefense allowed for the actual servers to be properly secured and worked to automate the correct response to threats. In addition, it also leveraged both VMware vSphere server virtualization with NSX, a network virtualization and security platform to automate threat detection and response. This allowed the district to gain visibility into unknown threats.

NSX replaced the aging infrastructure and created a secure network that the servers can talk to through micro-segmentation. In addition, changes are made more promptly and NSX features can be leveraged to manage the networking of virtual machines in ways that traditional networking could not. These two pieces now work congruently to protect the district environment from being blindsided by unknown risks.

VMware Horizon virtual desktops were also deployed to provide students with accessible digital learning.

Improving the Student Experience

Since implementing NSX and AppDefense, the dichotomy between security and accessibility has improved. The solutions allow for software-defined agility, especially in an environment that is constantly changing and adapting. The network’s design can now adapt to change without the district having to spend money on new equipment or a new network solution, ultimately saving it $250,000 a year in energy costs.

In addition, with VMware Horizon virtual desktops, students can access class resources, books, and software such as Adobe Photoshop through 3,200 Chromebooks. Classroom software can be accessed anywhere with an Internet connection, decreasing the amount of time students would have to spend walking to computer labs.

As Hutto ISD’s growth continues, the district is looking to continue using VMware products to securely provide better student experiences and ensure full accessibility for information students may need. Utilizing VMware solutions has supplemented the security posture of the entire business environment, and has allowed them the flexibility, creativity, and agility to build a well-rounded data center that is defense in-depth.

“It’s the unknown threats that we’re most concerned about, and AppDefense is going to help us be as proactive as possible. It’s a new generation of security,” says IT Director, Travis Brown.

Watch how Hutto ISD modernized its data center with VMware technology below.