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Networking & Wireless

Kent State Standardizing on Aruba Networking Gear

Kent State University has gone public with a sizable network upgrade: The eight-campus system is deploying technology from Aruba for its wired, wireless, management and cybersecurity needs. The network addresses the needs of about 35,000 students and 5,000 faculty and staffers.

The wireless network uses Aruba's WiFi 6 indoor and outdoor access points (APs) and mobility controllers. On the wired side, the university system is implementing Aruba's CX Series switches.

Kent State will also adopt Aruba network administration tools, including ClearPass, for network access control (NAC) and policy management; NetEdit for coordinating switch configuration, monitoring and troubleshooting; and User Experience Insight (UXI) for WiFi incident detection.

"Aruba's combination of proven technologies was a key factor in our decision," said Jim Raber, executive director of Support, Infrastructure, and Research Technology, in a press release.

"We needed a reliable, secure high-performance network that could evolve rapidly," added John Rathje, vice president of Information Technology and Kent State's CIO. "With Aruba, we can continuously modernize our network, which helps ensure we can deliver the best possible user experiences across a full spectrum of present and future activities."

"Previously, our wired network was vendor-neutral, which frequently meant contacting multiple sources to troubleshoot a single problem," explained Michael Geist, the university's manager of Network and Telecommunications. "By standardizing on Aruba, we have a single pane of glass and a single partner with an incredibly responsive support team."

Kent State is piloting the use of Aruba Central, which uses artificial intelligence for automating identification and resolution of user, Internet of Things and network issues.

"We've recently deployed Central for a remote learning location and expect to expand it across our footprint," said Geist. "Our team is very excited about exploring Central's AIOps capabilities for making deployments and day-to-day network administration faster and more efficient."

In the future, Kent State expects to adopt other Aruba products, including Location Services for various data-driven initiatives using the network, and Aruba Central for advanced AP and switch management.

According to Rathje, the value of Kent State's new network is foundational to the university's strategy.

"Beyond just having a network, we wanted to align our IT missions across the institution to support and enhance user experiences," he said. "After undergoing an extensive evaluation, we determined Aruba's vision, engagement and the inter-operability of all its solutions throughout the network layers made it the right partner for us."

Geist, Raber and Rathje are giving an Educause presentation about the Kent State network upgrade on Oct. 27, 2021 at 2:15 Eastern time.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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