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Cambridge Reduces Support Needs in Move to New Wireless System

The University of Cambridge is deploying Aruba Networks' wireless LAN equipment to replace a legacy network that had become unmanageable and a drain on resources. Since early 2008, about 100 Aruba AP-65 access points have been deployed, along with dual MMC-6000 Multi-Service Mobility Controllers. Since the implementation, two engineers that had been dedicated full-time to support of the Cisco network have been redeployed to other university work.

The University Computing Service, which runs the wireless service, issued a tender for a replacement network and selected Aruba for the project because its centralized management minimized deployment and support costs and its Remote Access Point (RAP) technology created an extensive "private" network with local bridging to IT resources and services within each college. The university plans to implement voice applications leveraging Aruba's voice quality of service (QoS) feature. Support services are being provided to Cambridge by Vanix, an Aruba integrator.

The university comprises 31 colleges, each an independent institution with its own property and income. The network division of the University's Computing Service Department acts as a service provider and works with the colleges and departments to provide a wireless hotspot service, "Lapwing," through which students and faculty members access the university's administrative and learning resources.

"Since we serve many masters, it is paramount that the wireless network be adaptable to a wide range of needs, simple to manage with minimal staff overhead, self-adjusting to accommodate dynamically changing local conditions, and cost effective for our clients, the colleges," said Bob Franklin, network division, University Computing Service. "Aruba's wireless architecture minimized the time required for our initial deployment and has delivered robust wi-fi performance ever since. The network's centralized management and RAP technology are supremely scalable with a minimum number of controllers, and have cut our support overhead costs by minimizing field visits. As a result [we] can support a greatly expanded network with existing staff while simultaneously passing operating expense savings directly to the colleges."

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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