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Holy Cross Deploys 802.11n Across 174-Acre Campus

In an effort to support the rapidly increasing number of wireless devices on campus, the College of the Holy Cross has completely overhauled its WiFI network. The move was a significant undertaking for the college, which has 38 buildings spread out over 174 acres, including a number of older structures constructed of thick stone and iron.

The deployment involved switching out the college's legacy CIsco-based 802.11a/g network with an 802.11n network using Aruba Networks gear, including Aruba S3500 Mobility Access Switches. The new network is built on Aruba's Mobile Virtual Enterprise (MOVE) architecture, which is designed to unify network management, policy enforcement, and user access across wired and wireless infrastructure, offering "context-aware access controls" based on individual users and their specific devices and applications.

According to Aruba, Holy Cross had originally planned on a more limited deployment, one covering just the common areas of the campus, but later decided to provide pervasive coverage over most of the campus to support a constituency that is increasingly favoring WiFi over wired connections, even in environments where wired Ethernet ports are readily available.

"Recent studies show that our students have an average of 2.5 devices per person and that a full 90 percent of the connections made to our network are wireless," said Ellen Keohane, director of Information Technology Services for Holy Cross, in a prepared statement. "That surprised us. Even faculty, who have traditionally been more wired-network oriented, and who all have Ethernet ports at their desks, are calling ITS if there's even a momentary blip in their WiFi coverage. The Aruba network helps us ensure that all of our constituents' needs are met, even with high-bandwidth applications like video, which is used extensively here for both education and recreation."

The S3500 Mobility Access Switches offer 24 or 48 gigabit Ethernet ports; various console, access, and management ports (RS-232, USB, gigabit Ethernet); an LCD display; auto MDI/MDIX support; optional 802.3af and 802.3at power over Ethernet; and management and monitoring via AirWave.

"When we looked at what the Aruba S3500 Mobility Access Switch and the Cisco 3560 switch could provide we found that the S3500 had more features built in with regards to network access control," said Harold Knapp, network operations director for Holy Cross, also in a prepared statement released today. "We see that in the future we will be able to leverage a single set of policies on the Aruba Controller across both the wireless and wired infrastructure. It gives us one point of administration of access control for all devices, providing responsible access to network assets."

The college reported it will also deploy Aruba's enterprise guest access tool, Amigopod, "in the near future."

Holy Cross, in Worcester, MA, is a Catholic undergraduate liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of more than 2,800 students.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .

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