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Arcadia U Shifts to Aruba for Wireless LAN

An infrastructure upgrade at Arcadia University in Philadelphia has replaced gigabit Ethernet with 10 gigabit fiber optic cabling and a predominantly Cisco-based wireless network with a new one built on Aruba Networks gear. The last wireless network upgrade had been done in 2007 and supported 802.11 a/b/g. The latest "wireless face-lift" included adding access points to residential housing to eliminate cold spots and building out wireless coverage to the newly constructed Commons, a building where students congregate, many administrators have their offices, and a "great" room accommodates gatherings of up to 500 people.

The university, with 4,000 students, maintains three separate wireless networks. A student network requires device registration to ensure that devices are safe to connect and to allow students to receive updates and patches. Staff and faculty have a separate network that allows them access to applications and data. A third network caters to campus guests, allowing visitors to connect to the Internet.

To do the buildout, the university worked with regional integrator Comm Solutions.

"It was crucial for us to build a wireless network that could address the needs of our entire population of students, faculty, staff, and administrators," said Vice President and CIO Steven Alter. "Working with Comm Solutions and Aruba Networks, we were able to design a wireless network that increased both coverage and reliability across campus. We've expanded our outdoor footprint so that the main campus footprint has wireless coverage and simultaneously, we've experienced 100 percent up-time on the network since deploying in mid-January."

Among the new services facilitated by the upgraded network is a mobile reference librarian service that began in the spring. Each week, a reference librarian sets up camp in the Commons to help students on the spot.

"Essentially, we've transformed Arcadia into a more vibrant campus," Alter noted.

The institution used a combination of Aruba products, including mobility controllers and 200 access points, including AP-105s, AP-125s, AP-124s, and AP-135s. Aruba's RAP-2WG access points provide access for Arcadia's remote users. The school is also using Aruba AirWave to manage the network and ClearPass to manage the guest network.

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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