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BYU-Hawaii Fences Off Wireless Network

Brigham Young University-Hawaii recently researched options for controlling access to its wireless network bandwidth and chose an Avenda Systems appliance to do user authentication. The Laie, Oahu-based campus has about 2,400 students and 500 faculty and staff. Its wireless network uses a mix of 240 Cisco and Xirrus access points.

After learning about new access control solutions at an educational technology conference, the IT team conducted an evaluation of Cisco's Clean Access, Impulse Point's Safe-Connect, and Avenda's eTIPS. According to Mark Aughenbaugh, infrastructure director, eTIPS was the only contender that could support wireless, wired, and virtual private network connections for authentication and authorization.

"In addition, Avenda was a lot more flexible to use, and supports more platforms than the other solutions," Aughenbaugh said. "Regarding policy enforcement, Avenda is farthest down the road in this capability, as well."

Currently, the university is doing only authentication on its wireless network. In the future the university expects to run 802.1X authentication on the wired side as well. In the initial deployment, the university has also chosen not to turn on functionality to check the status of endpoint devices for compliance with anti-virus or other policies. 802.1X is an IEEE standard for network access control.

To prepare user devices for the new authentication scheme, IT used Avenda's Quick1X tool. A portal was created that allowed each user to run a wizard with a predefined configuration template that streamlined the process.

Aughenbaugh pointed out that users have been more receptive to the Avenda deployment than previous approaches because fewer issues have surfaced. For example, users don't have to re-authenticate when roaming from one area to another. "Our main goals have been achieved, and now we have network visibility that we didn't have before, providing user information and details about the usage and performance of our wireless network," he said.

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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