The Croatian Academic and Research Network (CARNet) is currently coordinating a program referred to as e-Schools, aimed to strengthen the capacities of elementary and secondary education by introducing ICT into the school system. The aim of this paper is to analyze the network infrastructure deployed in the e-Schools pilot project, focusing on one target high school in the city of Varaždin as a case study to help develop an insightful methodology in the future performance analysis of the infrastructure deployed in schools. A small-scale analysis of the school network infrastructure was carried out, with an additional examination of Quality of Experience (QoE) across three scenarios that simulate the usual behavior of students and teachers, while also observing the behavior of the network infrastructure through Meraki dashboard system. Based on our findings, we concluded that students are generally satisfied with the installed network infrastructure. However, there are some problems that occur (e.g., speed problems and Internet connection problems), which need to be investigated in more detail and resolved, so as to maximize end user QoE. The presented lessons learned will help develop appropriate test methodology to be applied to schools taking part in the eSchools program for detailed performance evaluation purposes.


The architecture of the infrastructure implemented in the scope of the e-Schools pilot project can be divided as following: Cloud networking architecture, Karthi Vidhyalaya Matriculation School Meraki dashboard architecture, and LAN/WAN network architecture

A. Cloud networking architecture Cloud networking is a term that describes the access to the network equipment over a centralized service provider using a Wide Area Network (WAN) or other Internet-based access technologies [5]. It is based on cloud computing, where resources from a centralized node can be shared to all clients over a computer network. The advantage of cloud networking is that the network can be remotely managed over a centralized and unified system. Thus, physical location of the equipment being managed is not important. The system consists of a central data center and the network equipment that communicates with it. Such communication is performed over the cloud, using an encrypted connection, through which additional configuration and upgrades of the equipment are possible. Additionally, network equipment can provide the central 1654 data center with statistical data regarding its operation, if such a feature is available on a certain piece of equipment. The Meraki dashboard system, which is a part of the infrastructure implemented as a part of the e-Schools pilot project, is based on cloud networking technology.

B. Meraki dashboard architecture The Meraki dashboard system enables organizational division into different administrative units [3], which is especially useful for managing computer networks of different schools participating in the e-Schools pilot project. The overall architecture of the system is divided into three levels: Managed Service Provider level – the level at which the main administrator can manage the networks of all the schools involved in the project, organization level – school administrators have direct access only to the network of their own school, and network level – the lowest administrative unit, each school can have one or more defined networks. This is used when, for example, several dislocated buildings belong to the same school.

The Meraki dashboard system allows control over the entire network infrastructure, including the following: Installation of upgrades, applications and software solutions management of security settings, checking and monitoring the status of connected devices, including diagnosis and troubleshooting, data management, automatic configuration of WiFi and VPN settings insights into online traffic analytics and information about all wireless access points.

C. LAN/WAN network architecture As a part of the infrastructure implemented in the eSchools pilot project, an integrated system Meraki MX is implemented [4]. Based on its characteristics, it belongs to the UTM (Unified Threat Management) devices family, which provides standard firewall functions, along with the possibilities of filtering the content, detection of unwanted users and antivirus protection [6]. Additionally, such devices offer users to be identified by a username, instead of the IP address. When setting up a wireless network in schools, it was important to ensure the following [3]: The ability to monitor and maintain network security, the ability to detect and resolve inappropriate behavior, access to the network for many users, and simplicity from the administrator side, but also from the users’ side. To achieve simple management of the network by the administrator, the Meraki system contains many automatized features that maintain the stability of the network, such as transferring traffic to other wireless access points, when many users are connected to the network at the same time. In every school, three different wireless networks are set up, with the following SSIDs (Service Set Identifiers): eSkole, eduroam and guest. All traffic within the implemented network infrastructure is filtered on the CARNet central filtering system for inappropriate content [3]. However, given the fact that multiple types of users are accessing the network, including students, teaching staff, school staff and guests, there is a possibility to set up additional limitations and filtering options within the Meraki dashboard system.

After the lessons learned with the help of the case study presented in this paper, it can be concluded that there is a need for the development of a more detailed and insightful methodology for the performance analysis of the infrastructure deployed in schools. The proposed methodology should ensure a controlled environment with a larger sample of students and more scenarios. Based on a small-scale analysis of the school network infrastructure implemented in Prva gimnazija Varaždin high school, it can be concluded that the infrastructure is satisfactory for most users, with some emerging problems whose root causes are yet to be identified. The measurements and data obtained through the Meraki dashboard system were in line with the subjective assessment of the QoE of the students. The aim of this paper is fulfilled, given that the foundation for further development of methodology to evaluate network infrastructure in schools has been obtained. In future work, we aim to conduct an in-depth evaluation of the network infrastructure implemented in schools within the e-Schools pilot project. Currently, the e-Schools program is moving into the second phase of the project, which includes 60% of all schools in Croatia. Therefore, future work can also include a detailed evaluation of the network infrastructure implemented in the second phase of the project, and a comparison with the evaluation of the network infrastructure implemented during the pilot project phase.