The word “legacy,” when it comes to discussions of college and university networks, has become a dirty word.

college-bandwidth-networks“Legacy,” in these exchanges, is shorthand for a technological solution that isn’t only outdated, but also inefficient, ineffective, and costly to maintain. Campus IT plans, in fact, often revolve around the best way to rid a school of legacy systems that were once the only option, but now stand in the way of ed-tech progress.

Talk of how to replace legacy systems very often begins with how colleges and universities can address evolving — and tricky — network challenges as student demand for bandwidth reaches new, higher levels every school year. Students, after all, are now bringing an average of six mobile devices to campus.

The legacy copper-based local area network (LAN) architecture built on campuses 20, 30, even 40 years ago is no longer a viable solution as schools deal with a massive influx of mobile devices hungry for bandwidth. Those networks were designed to support peer-to-peer desktop computer traffic flows because 80 percent of the traffic stayed local — on campus.

Today, about 90 percent of a school’s LAN traffic flows directly to wide area network (WAN) thanks to a half dozen technological developments: Big data analytics, virtual desktops, cloud-based computing, wireless devices, smart building technologies, and the internet of things.

Tellabs, an Illinois-based company specializing in helping campuses handle network challenges, has made a name for itself with its Optical LAN solution, which cuts down on energy consumption, trims annual IT costs, and requires less room than many legacy systems.

Matt Hassett, marketing communications manager at Tellabs, said the environmentally-friendly aspects of the company’s Optical LAn solution have proven particularly appealing in higher education.

(Next page: Lowering costs)


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