The Client

The Brewster Central School District serves approximately 3,000 students, employs 450 staff members, and holds classes and activities in four different school buildings with varying grade levels from elementary school through high school. Brewster has earned a reputation as a high-performing school system with students who consistently perform at or above the levels of districts with similar demographic and economic profiles.

Technology plays a large role in every aspect of Brewster Central School District as educators leverage IT as a tool to enhance the curriculum and instruction they deliver to its students. Brewster Central School District provides Chromebooks for students K-12 and supports a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) network for instructional flexibility.

Staff Members
Instructional Buildings

Business Impact

Brewster looked to Meridian as a partner to design a plan and execute it for the future. By creating an intelligent response system and providing additional Palo Alto support, Brewster now has a granular and protected view of their ecosystem. Brewster’s IT department has more time to focus on meaningful projects, such as addressing the new state laws regarding security requirements and taking preventive measures to stop ransomware.

The students at Brewster are experiencing the benefits of advanced technology without disruption to their connectivity. Its students can now effectively collaborate and utilize the abundance of online resources while allowing teachers to track and measure student progress.

We have a lot of trust in Meridian. They not only understand where we are as an organization but also where we want to go.

Bob Valdez

Assistant Director of Technology for Network Support & Operations

The Challenges

With every student receiving a Chromebook and thousands of devices dependent on the network every day, Brewster Central School District started to hit limitations on their Palo Alto firewalls, creating access issues and traffic limitations for staff and students. Education at Brewster heavily relies on this IT ecosystem for both curriculum and instruction, so failure was not an option.

To add to its challenges, a former Brewster employee had set up the Palo Alto firewalls for the school and when he left the district, the team was left with a knowledge gap. Plus, the team was in the process of adding additional redundancy as part of an audit recommendation.

How Meridian Helped

Brewster Central School District turned to Meridian to support them through this growth and transition. Meridian stepped in to act as an expansion of their team and fill the Palo Alto technology expert gap. In addition, the Meridian team analyzed Brewster's current environment to uncover how policies were structured, assessed the current configuration, and made recommendations on what needed to change for maximum security and performance for today and for tomorrow.

Once the proposed strategy was discussed and approved to ensure it met all of the tactical and strategic needs of the Brewster team, Meridian adjusted where the arp table was stored, moving it from their firewall to their core switch. This created a significantly larger table thus eliminating the firewall limitations that were crippling their network. Meridian also worked with the Brewster Central School District to add a second Palo Alto firewall for redundancy, a DMZ, and an automated fail-over on the internet connection to prevent any disruptions to the network.

We have talented and knowledgeable staff, but it is difficult to have deep technical expertise in all systems. Meridian is like a security blanket filling in our knowledge gaps.

Bob Valdez

Assistant Director of Technology for Network Support & Operations

Case Study