Must-have capabilities in a campus network upgrade

Illinois State University discusses what’s needed to support thousands of devices; faculty collaboration

mobile-network-illinoisA new network is helping one university connect more than 30,000 mobile and wireless devices to boost collaboration in academic programs.

Illinois State University, which has begun deployment of a campus-wide Aruba 802.11ac-based network, says the gigabit Wi-Fi infrastructure will help securely connect the mobile and wireless devices being used on campus and allow faculty to incorporate a wide range of education technologies.

The implementation began as a response to complaints about coverage—a similar problem facing many institutions across the country.

Illinois State’s Administrative Technologies department had been receiving complaints about their existing network’s coverage, reliability and speed, especially in sections of the campus with extreme device density.

“Some students today are bringing up to five mobile and wireless devices each onto campus,” Johnston said. “From laptops, tablets and smartphones to televisions, Blu-ray players, gaming systems and printers, there is truly an explosion of devices trying to access the network. Our students expect their devices to work anywhere on campus, and to work as well as they do on their home networks.”

“One of the main issues was quality control,” explained Ryan Johnston, interim director of Infrastructure, Operations and Networking for Illinois State. “We had to revert back to older versions of code and we were not able to run the latest version of code due to that. So we were looking to go to a vendor that had a little more stable code base to work from. We needed a reliable vendor that had reliable support.”

In order to address those concerns and improve network access for students, faculty, staff and guests, Illinois State decided to replace its Meru Networks wireless infrastructure with an upgrade. After a thorough review of options, including Aruba and Cisco, Illinois State selected Aruba’s 802.11ac solution, considering the solution’s ability to handle increasingly high device density and quickly authenticate device connections on a multi-vendor network, said the University.

The University will migrate to the new Aruba infrastructure over the next three years.

(Next page: Implementation benefits faculty, too)