The University of Essex was established in 1963 and is now embracing a contemporary viewpoint:
We are different and we are the same.
We are humble and we are brave.
We are many and we are one.
Seven years ago, they decided to install Aruba Networks’ wireless network.
“Seven years ago we were quite late in university terms putting in wireless, but not so many people were using it,” says Andrew Larkin, the university’s network manager.
“Then three years ago we saw an explosion in the usage. We have a huge number of students with smartphones or tablets – it went from one wireless device between three or four people to three devices per person. Now everyone uses it – students, staff, visitors and so on – and they expect coverage in every corner.”
The number of connected devices has significantly increased so there was need to support more access points (APs).
There was also a strong requirement to improve network monitoring and access control.
With the university’s two Aruba controllers and its 250 APs reaching end of life, it decided to replace the APs with newer AP105 and AP135 models and to install six new 7000-series controllers.
“We are doubling the number of APs and phasing out the old 11bg-only ones. As well as that, we are putting in controller pairs on each of our three main campuses, both for better resilience and because the system is so much more heavily used now,” Larkin explains.
There was no need to wait until the users were absent to carry out IT updates, either.
“We can just transfer the old access points to the new controllers, then replace the access points building by building,” he says.
For improving monitoring, the University of Essex invested in Aruba’s Airwave 700 monitoring software. For user management, they invested in ClearPass Policy Manager and ClearPass Guest software.
Larkin says Airwave should give his team “more visibility of where the users are,” while ClearPass will help get visitors and guests connected – a vital task in today’s universities which expect to host conferences and other public events, as well as academic visitors.
Benefits and the future
An experienced IT partner, such as KHIPU, can provide the subject matter experience – and therefore the negotiating weight – that in-house teams may lack.
KHIPU’s Matt Ashman helped to reach agreement with the university’s estate management team on locations for external APs and on the challenging task of covering the university’s flagship Ivor Crewe Lecture Hall.
“Their technicians have the sort of expertise that is very important in wireless for getting people connected securely,” says Larkin.
“Often they will have seen the same problem elsewhere, so they already know the answer.”
Going forward, the University of Essex can look to further advancements.
“We also get the ability to move on to newer technologies in time, especially 802.11ac and 11ad. The new Aruba APs work in exactly the same way, so they can just drop in as replacements. And while we are not using Wi-Fi for teaching yet, it means we can put the infrastructure in place to support it when it happens.”
KHIPU – digital education solutions
We’re KHIPU, an Aruba platinum partner – we have been around since 2005 and built a strong partnership with Aruba since then, implementing and supporting their entire portfolio. We first installed University of Essex’s wireless network in 2006.
Want to ensure that your campus network is secure and able to provide the very best user experience for your staff and students? For a limited time KHIPU Aruba specialists will be offering a free consultation to discuss your needs and provide advice. Find out more and sign up here.