Case Study:
National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)

"We’re a global organization and technology is a key piece that makes things happen," said Bobby Johnston, Network Engineer, NOLS. "Our communications infrastructure is critical, but complicated by the fact that our ideal classrooms are wilderness."

Technology strategies, including satellite communications in remote areas and VoIP where Internet is more reliable, keep NOLS staff and students in touch and information accessible both in the field and out. To deliver their private cloud from a central location and align with their environmental mission, NOLS chose Green House Data.

With outdoor classrooms across the globe and an IT footprint spanning multiple geographies, NOLS is challenged to maintain connectivity between diverse sites while still keeping operational costs in check.

Our ideal classrooms are wilderness

National Outdoor Leadership School backpacking"We’re a global organization and technology is a key piece that makes things happen," said Bobby Johnston, Network Engineer, NOLS. "Our communications infrastructure is critical, but complicated by the fact that our ideal classrooms are wilderness."

Technology strategies, including satellite communications in remote areas and VoIP where Internet is more reliable, keep NOLS staff and students in touch and information accessible both in the field and out. To deliver their private cloud from a central location and align with their environmental mission, NOLS chose Green House Data.

How to make cinnamon rolls in the backcountry

Figuring out how to implement new sites and keep them reliably online is one of our biggest challenges," said Johnston. "For example, we work at a site in Baja that was operating only with high-frequency Marine radio until recently."

Green House Data's Cheyenne location provides NOLS with better connectivity and higher availability than in-house infrastructure. By colocating the equipment that powers their private cloud in the central United States, NOLS is able to connect diverse IT environments to their headquarters at the foot of the Wind River Mountain Range.

National Outdoor Leadership School canoeingIn addition, NOLS' online presence acts as an essential meeting place that helps alumni, prospective students, and staff interface. Video content ranging in topics from what to do about snakebites to how to cook in the backcountry helps the school reach a wider audience and aids in recruiting.

"We’re also exploring online learning classroom possibilities," said Cameron Sumpter, Systems Administrator, NOLS. "To date, we’ve included historical interactions and a platform for our Wilderness Medical Institute, and students can enroll and interact with our school through the technology portal."

Going green

Central to the NOLS philosophy, along with leadership values and development of technical outdoor skills, is environmental ethics. As the school provides expeditionary learning experiences for students in remote areas, they also strive to understand the global impact of every action.

"Support for any technical issues has always been prompt and professional," said Sumpter. "We have also appreciated working with a company who shares our commitment to responsible and sustainable practices."

In a historically resource intensive industry, Green House Data is powered entirely by renewable energy, like wind and solar. In addition, the company’s data centers are designed to cool year-round with outside ambient air and operate to industry-leading efficiency standards.

"We work with vendors all over the world, and Green House Data has been excellent," said Johnson.

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