Networking & Wireless

William & Mary Deploys Controller-Free 802.11n WiFi

The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA has deployed an 802.11n wireless network that doesn't require a controller in a newly constructed building on campus. The campus chose gear from Aerohive Networks for Miller Hall, its new, three-story, 166,000-square-foot facility, which houses the Mason School of Business.

The college has a Cisco Systems Airespace network, which has grown to 1,000 access points running 802.11 a/b/g. For the latest project, the IT organization considered 802.11n equipment from several vendors. According to a statement, four key requirements were identified: support for 802.11n, reliability, the ability to integrate with the university's home-grown network access control (NAC) system, and ease of deployment and management. Of the vendors evaluated, all but Aerohive relied on a controller-based architecture.

"We felt that going forward with the controller model didn't line up with our desire to be more fault tolerant," said Norman Elton, network engineer and manager of the university's wireless network. "Tunneling all the traffic back to the core didn't make a lot of sense."

Aerohive's access points--HiveAPs--"self organize" into groups called "Hives." "The access points communicate with each other, but there is no single point of failure for user traffic," said Elton. "That was really the clincher for us."

Elton's team deployed 100 HiveAPs in the building in a few days. "The engineer just hung them, plugged them in, and walked away," Elton said. The college uses Aerohive HiveManager as a central console for configuring, monitoring, and provisioning the access points.

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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