Founded in 1511, St John’s College is one of the largest colleges at Cambridge University, home to more than 500 undergraduates and 300 postgraduates. Alumni include the winners of 10 Nobel Prizes, 7 prime ministers and 12 archbishops.
St John’s College determines its own IT policies and have big plans for digital change.
“We wanted to be the first college to provide a home network-type environment, where people could stream media, use their iPad or connect to a wireless printer,” says Simon Mallows, Assistant Computer Systems Manager – Network Systems, St John’s College, Cambridge.
One requirement was to keep connectivity through Eduroam, the global roaming service for users in research and higher education; another was wireless connectivity and keeping both teachers and students connected at all times to the network.
“We have had academics wanting to do presentations using Apple TV,” Mallows says. “Students also want to work from their rooms, from a device of their choosing. We needed to deal with wireless properly. And it’s better to try and control it than just let it run rampant.”
“Aruba were the only people to offer the kind of control we needed,” says Mallows.
The Aruba solution comprises 200 Series access points, four Aruba 7210 controllers, Aruba AirWave Network Management and Aruba ClearPass Policy Manager.
The roll-out was phased, with half the access points and controllers, AirWave and ClearPass in place by the start of the 2016-17 academic year. The rest of the access points on the main site were in place by the start of the 2017-18 academic year.
Presently, 800-900 devices are connected to the network at any one time. Connection is relatively straightforward – users connect their devices to Eduroam, or through a wireless SSID if their devices are not capable of 802.1x authentication. They can share devices via their Eduroam identifier, thereby creating their own ‘bubble’.
“We can put users on different subnets or roles and they can still connect to everything in their bubble,” says Mallows. “We could have a dedicated MDNS/Bonjour subnet if we chose to. Students or Fellows have total control over what devices they register or remove and what usernames they add to their personal bubble.”
The college receives numerous visitors and they can register for up to a week. B&B guests have their own dedicated SSID during B&B season – devices registered to the B&B system cannot connect to the St John’s Visitors SSID (and vice-versa).
“And across all of this,” says Mallows, “we have good troubleshooting tools through Aruba Clearpass Access Tracker, Insight and AirWave.”
Benefits and the future
As well as the satisfied students and visitors, other benefits have included a singular view of the entire network for simplifying management. Aruba networks also allow for granular role-based access control for ultimate control. Moreover, it integrates easily with 3rd party solutions like Palo Alto Firewalls.
Going forward, Mallows says St John’s College now has a platform in place on which to build new services.
“With Aruba, we have a system that allows access to public streaming devices with little interaction from members of staff. That may not seem desperately important right now, but it means that our system is already set up for future developments in which it will be much more significant.”
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 have a 10-year relationship with St John’s College.
Make sure your University is future-proofed for digital connectivity and student demands. 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.