Today’s tech savvy students increasingly use multiple wireless devices including smartphones and tablets. They wish to connect wherever they go within the University to access research and lecture material, as well as their own social and email accounts. As a result the ICT department have seen a huge year-on-year growth in mobile device related traffic which was putting the current system under strain.
“Wireless connectivity has become an essential part of University life as it aids the teaching and social environment which enhances the user’s experience. Good coverage, reliability, speed, connectivity and compatibility are important factors to sustaining student satisfaction while at the university,“ said Minesh Chikniwala, Deputy CIO, University of Bedfordshire.
Analysis of the current wireless solution showed that, with the increased number of mobile devices, capacity and connectivity issues were occurring with the current solution. The existing solution used a centralised architecture which resulted in insufficient service system delivery at peak times. The University network team wanted an architecture that put layer 3 switching at the edge and avoided these bottlenecks, making it easier to support the bandwidth for heavy video and multimedia applications that students demand today. The Wifi network upgrade would also incorporate the latest 802.11ac standards for improved capacity.
The network also had to allow seamless connectivity across five different sites, and provide support for ‘Eduroam’, the higher education wireless network that allows users, staff and students from within the University to connect and gain access to services relevant to them as well as visitors from other institutions. The ‘Eduroam’ system also allows students from the University of Bedfordshire to instantly access internet services while visiting other universities across Europe. The network team required a single management interface in order to setup the various security policies and control user access to the network.