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Securing Networks to Support Virtual Learning

October 21, 2020
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Tanya Valdez is a Technical Writer at Constellix. She makes the information-transfer material digestible through her own transfer of information to our customers and readers. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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Like Whitney said, "I believe the children are our future; teach them well, and let them lead the way." We need to make sure they can be taught to the best of their teachers’ abilities, and with Covid-19 doing a number on our society, it hasn't been easy on our education system. The current pandemic has uprooted traditional internet usage, leaving teachers to now instruct their students online. This sudden shift in instruction is a challenge of its own and reports have shown that data usage has increased 47 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have seen a recent surge of internet usage for a multitude of means, on a variety of platforms:

  • Social media sites reported substantial growth in visitor count for users who wanted to remain social, while social distancing. 
  • Restaurants switched gears by offering online ordering. 
  • Working from home has become second nature to our daily lives. 
  • Streaming services have provided enhanced entertainment offerings for the trying times, with Disney+ doubling in subscriptions in the early months of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Importance of Network Resilience for Educational Institutions 

Virtual learning for students has carried over into the 2020-2021 school year, with only 8% of colleges and universities making the decision to remain virtual this fall semester. It is pertinent for students to maintain access to the various resources required for their virtual learning, including student portals, college websites and emails, online library books, to name a few. The ability to download required documents, upload assignments, collaborate with peers, and reach out to instructors are all essential needs that contribute to a student’s academic success.

Remote access to the learning environment needs to support the increased traffic and provide quality service to those who are paying top dollar to attend said colleges and universities. Any downtime or lag are major distractions for students that will take away from their overall learning experience. Too many of these types of hindrances can severely affect the student’s academic performance. DNS outages can be caused by an influx of traffic or distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, in which attackers flood the site with traffic to make it unreachable to regular visitors. Pickens School District, a kindergarten through twelfth-grade school district in South Carolina, experienced a district-wide outage due to a DDoS attack on September 8, 2020. Both teachers and students were unable to utilize their devices to complete assignments. Outages can occur at any type of educational institution and can have major effects on the students’ learning experience. Now, more than ever, it is vital to ensure that students are receiving the top-level education they need by keeping their networks secure and stable. 

Finding a Solution

There are multiple solutions that can be configured in the Constellix platform to ensure high resource availability for end-users: DNS Failover, Load Balancing, and Secondary DNS. 

DNS Failover assists in network resiliency by withstanding data center outages and even DNS provider outages. This moves visitor traffic from unavailable resources to those that are healthy and providing services as intended. If the primary IP/hostname is unavailable, the traffic is routed to the “backup” resources to ensure a robust connection to enable student accessibility. 

Load Balancing manages the traffic flow between the redundant systems. This assists in managing the traffic load in the event a system is not available, with no observable impact on the end-user. Since this takes place at the DNS level, the DNS load balancing is substantially faster for the student to obtain the information related to their query.

Secondary DNS allows the use of multiple DNS providers simultaneously to maintain uptime. This improves DNS resolution times and boosts domain performance by utilizing the provider that has improved performance at that moment and will deliver the majority of the query load to that provider’s servers. This adds another layer of redundancy and ensures uptime in the event one provider is down. 

Outages and downtime seem to be unavoidable with all of the weight we have placed on our networks during this challenging and unprecedented time. The fact of the matter is that it is avoidable. Constellix is the only provider in the industry that provides 100% uptime with top performance and top history of stability success. Constellix and DNS Made Easy have built an unmatched network foundation that is continually being analyzed and enhanced to provide improved and exceptional performance. 

It is not an overstatement to say that students are our future, so why wouldn’t we do all that we can to help guide them? It is important to invest in our future. Our future is our youth, and the time to start investing is now

Here are just a few educational institutions that are helping pave the way for their students’ academic journeys using the DNS Made Easy and Constellix family of services:

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