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Virginia Union U Ramps Up 802.11n Wireless

Virginia Union University has deployed an Aruba Networks 802.11n solution and AirWave Wireless Management Suite at its 84-acre campus in Richmond. The university's previous network of wireless access points lacked centralized management and robust wireless performance. Prior to selecting a new wireless vendor, the university staged a competitive evaluation between Aruba and two other vendors. Aruba's solution was determined to be both more economical and technically superior, the university said in a statement, and Virginia Union subsequently purchased an Aruba 802.11n WiFi network and AirWave Wireless Management Suite.

"We selected Aruba for our wireless upgrade because its AP-125 802.11n Access Point had demonstrably better coverage and range than comparable alternatives," said Robert Gray, director of IT. "Aruba also delivered exceptional pre-sales support, its solution was less expensive, and its network was easier to deploy and manage. One feature we were sorely lacking before was a secure, easy-to-use guest access system. Aruba's captive portal includes a rich suite of guest access features and can be operated by non-technical personnel."

The vendor said its Adaptive Radio Management (ARM) technology simplifies wireless LAN deployment by eliminating the need for site surveys and continuously optimizing WiFi performance.

Aruba's policy-enforcement firewall (PEF) provides identity-based security, quality of service control, and traffic management capabilities. The firewall classifies traffic on the basis of user identity, device type, location, and time of day, and provides differentiated access for different classes of users. Guest access can be controlled with respect to bandwidth consumed and the applications and resources that can be accessed.

"The AirWave suite stands head and shoulders above the other wireless management systems that we evaluated," said Gray. "It's easy to set-up, easy to use, and includes a powerful set of reporting capabilities that keep us abreast of user activity, network utilization, and system performance."

Features included in the suite are:

  • Visibility into the wireless network that enables the help desk to resolve problems remotely and efficiently;
  • Streamlined performance of routine management tasks such as updating controller configurations and software versions; and
  • Support for multiple generations of technology, wireless standards, and vendors through a single console interface.

In the last several months, Carnegie Mellon University, Liberty University, and Universidad del Valle de Mexico have shared details of their deployment of Aruba Networks gear to upgrade their wireless networks.

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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