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India's Karunya U Deploys WiFi To Support Learning Initiatives

Karunya University, a private university in Chennai in India, is deploying Aruba Networks' WiFi networks across its campus. The new system supports digital ink and electronic slide initiatives for classrooms and lecture halls, online exams, and campus-wide intranet and Internet access for campus users.

In a statement, the university said its legacy network was difficult to manage and couldn't be upgraded to provide the security and bandwidth required for the new electronic learning projects. Prior to selecting a replacement system, the university conducted a technical assessment, including a functional test, to assess stability, radio frequency management capabilities, security, guest Internet access, ease of use, and cost effectiveness. Aruba was ranked first in all categories and subsequently selected for the project.

"Our legacy WiFi network was a bottleneck that prevented us from making the best use of our 8.5 kilometers of optical fiber backbone with 32 megabits-per-second Internet connectivity," said S. Benson Edwin Raj, assistant professor and head of the computer center. "Karunya's campus encompasses more than 700 acres. Our autonomous access points didn't provide adequate coverage, were a nightmare to manage, and lacked adequate security to protect themselves. Aruba demonstrated that its wireless LAN delivered the coverage and security we required, was scalable to meet present and future needs, and was very simple to set up and manage on an on-going basis."

The university actively encourages the use of digital ink and electronic slides in courses to stimulate collaboration and participation. This type of application requires reliable WiFi connectivity in classrooms and lecture halls with large numbers of densely-deployed laptops. Similarly, the on-line exam system generates very large bursts of WiFi traffic during the term.

Aruba gear uses the company's Adaptive Radio Management (ARM) software to automate site surveys. ARM uses a variety of techniques to control how WiFi clients interact in an effort to ensure that data, voice, and video applications have sufficient network resources, including airtime, to operate properly.

Intranet and Internet security are provided at Karunya U by Aruba's firewall. The firewall is used to partition network access by policing what resources users are allowed to access and how much bandwidth they consume. Classification criteria include user identity, device type, location, and time of day. Guest and student access can be controlled with respect to bandwidth consumed and available applications and resources. "The firewall allows us to precisely tailor network access policies based on the specific user," said Raj. "We use the firewall to manage the wireless network and deliver a very consistent user experience. Security policies are consistently enforced, regardless of where users roam or connect to the network."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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