SPARCC maintains a wide area network connecting each of its member districts via high speed fiber optic circuits to a central network core. The circuits are provided through an agreement with the Time Warner Cable and Massillon Cable companies. These companies provide the circuits with assurances of quality and speed and maintain the fiber optic cables and the accompanying communications equipment to ensure the continuing flow of information.
SPARCC maintains a connection to the Ohio Education Computer Network (OECN) using the Ohio Third Frontier broadband network. The OECN provides SPARCC and other Information Technology Centers (ITC) access to the Internet and Internet2 and obtains network bandwidth at significant discounts because of the size of the purchase. Member districts realize lower fees as a result of SPARCC’s participation in the OECN.
The SPARCC network is structured to maximize access to valuable resources while minimizing the risks to the member districts. Using statistics maintained by OARnet, SPARCC employees monitor bandwidth usage to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to access online resources. The SPARCC network is protected by a firewall which deters malicious access from the outside to district computing systems. In addition, SPARCC maintains a filtering system which prevents access to materials deemed to be inappropriate for usage in schools. Messages flowing through the SPARCC core are examined to isolate malware and prevent its spread to the member districts.
SPARCC has obtained a relatively large number of public routable Internet Protocol (IP) addresses and reserves them for use by its member districts. This IP address pool is stored in the SPARCC firewall which uses Network Address Translation (NAT) to dole out the numbers as needed. The NAT service enables the use of private IP address numbers within the member districts.
SPARCC provides domain name service to the districts enabling the use of human readable connections to the World Wide Web. Redundant domain name servers ensure that this service is available to the districts as needed. Districts may choose to build from the SPARCC registered domain name (sparcc.org) without the need for further registration. If a district chooses to register a unique domain name set, SPARCC employees are available to provide guidance and support.
SPARCC serves as a hub for the receipt and delivery of electronic mail messages intended for the member districts. Hundreds of thousands of message flow through SPARCC daily and messages are checked for the presence of malware. The SPARCC filters stop a very large number of unwanted messages (SPAM) from clogging the member districts networks. SPARCC employees monitor the flow of messages to ensure that they arrive at their destinations.
Please direct your questions or concerns about this service to the SPARCC office.