How SD-WAN Solutions Help Canadian Schools with WAN-Edge Transformation

Education is embracing digital transformation. Students are learning from IoT devices, digital texts, computerized classrooms, while other online study and educational materials are being adopted at an accelerating pace. Due to education's digital transformation, Canadian school districts are looking for greater access speeds within their learning environments.

Recently, the Canadian Ministry of Education set forth on a Broadband Modernization Project that will transition all Ontario schools from MPLS to broadband to ensure that students and educators have access to reliable, fast, secure, and affordable internet at school by 2022. 

In order to alleviate the complexity of academic infrastructure and significantly reduce the cost of MPLS, many Canadian school districts are turning to Fortinet's Secure SD-WAN solution to allow them to adhere to privacy and protection regulations while enhancing learning environments within their districts for both students and staff.

Securing and Enhancing Canadian Education Systems

Fortinet's SD-WAN solution incorporates many benefits that enhance IoT performance within academic institutions. Here are some comments from some of the Canadian school districts adopting the SD-WAN solution from Fortinet:

Faster Bandwidth

Organizations that deploy SD-WAN use over 50 percent more bandwidth than those that have not deployed it. According to a recent IHS survey, these organizations also have bandwidth needs that are growing at twice the rate of those using traditional WANs. As a result, schools are increasingly requiring faster and more secure internet to meet the needs of students and staff, while also being challenged with the IoT explosion.

Fortinet's SD-WAN solution uses tunnel bandwidth aggregation to maximize bandwidth utilization to ensure performance without compromising the bandwidth of other applications on the network. The solution is also able to detect and report WAN bandwidth in real time. These capabilities allow schools to uphold the Ministry of Education's requirement for 1 megabit per-second per-student, reducing costs, and increasing speed and performance of in-network devices.

“Upper Grand District School Board has been successfully using FortiGate Secure SD-WAN appliances for the past eighteen months to meet both our internet bandwidth and security needs. We have kept our operational costs steady while simultaneously meeting the increasing internet capacity requirement at each school. The centralized management console, FortiManager, ensures that we can efficiently monitor, configure, and implement our security policies to all of the FortiGate Secure SD-WAN appliances.” 

- John McCormick, Associate Chief Information Officer, Upper Grand District School Board

Integrated Security

It is more important than ever to secure digital learning environments for students, which is why Fortinet's Secure SD-WAN solution completely addresses the requirements necessary for security. This solution leverages an integrated portfolio of security solutions through a single-pane-of glass view, which allows school districts to have visibility across all locations. Further, Fortinet was the only vendor with integrated security capabilities to receive an SD-WAN Recommended Rating from NSS Labs in their Software-Defined Wide Area Networking Test Report. With native Next Generation Firewall (NGFW) security, this solution blocked 100 percent of evasions and achieved a 99.9 percent security effectiveness score.

“Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board was looking to reduce our WAN cost through an SD-WAN solution. In our search, we found most solutions are expensive and do not provide the NGFW security capabilities we require. We chose Fortinet’s FortiGate Secure SD-WAN over competitors because it provides us with what we feel is the best SD-WAN solution, while also providing superior security features in one console. In addition to lowering the WAN cost, Fortinet also enabled us to reduce complexity and the ability to prioritize critical applications.” 

- Dan Fitzgerald, Chief Information Officer, Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board

Cost-Effective Operations

Our FortiGate SD-WAN solution delivers the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) per Mbps among all vendors participating in the NSS Labs SD-WAN Test Report. The cost-effectiveness of this solution allows schools to save money and reallocate those funds toward learning opportunities for students.

“Leveraging Fortinet’s SD-WAN solution, District School Board Niagara has been able to provide our staff and students with a stable, feature rich, and secure network environment, including use of IoT devices in the classroom and schools. We’ve been able to deploy Fortinet’s premium technology while still lowering our broadband and fiber costs. The savings we’ve achieved as a result has allowed DSB Niagara to redirect funds toward educational priorities for all students in DSBN. This includes STEM programs, such as our iHub Academy and our IT4 Learning Team, and elective programs for students focusing on artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, threat management, etc.” 

- Dino Miele, CIO, District School Board of Niagara

“We’ve been using a cloud-first approach for several years as part of our digital transformation journey. As part of our Ministry of Education Broadband Modernization Project, an initiative to transition all Ontario schools to SD-WAN, we’ve had to speed up this process while connecting each of our schools directly to the internet. After going through the vendor evaluation process, we selected FortiGate Secure SD-WAN because it provides best-of-breed SD-WAN and security features in one single offering. As a result, we’ve been able to reduce complexity at the school level and have single-pane-of-glass visibility across all our locations. We’ve seen a significant reduction in the total cost of ownership for our WAN.” 

- Chris Dale, Manager of Innovative and Collaborative Technology Services, London District Catholic School Board

As a result of the advantages provided by Fortinet's SD-WAN solutions, Canadian school districts are able to focus on what matters: their mission to enhance education and educational opportunities for students and staff.


As academic institutions seek to protect their students and learning environments from the growing threats of IoT and interconnectivity, one solution stands out. Fortinet's SD-WAN solution offers school districts in Canada the opportunity to easily move from MPLS networks to broadband to meet the Ministry of Education's requirements of 1 Mbps per-student. With Fortinet's fast broadband, integrated security measures, and cost effectiveness, leading educators are better able to provide access to reliable, fast, secure, and affordable internet at school.

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