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North Dakota State U Rolls Out Certificate-Based WiFi

In an effort to improve usability, manageability and security of its WiFi network, North Dakota State University has implemented XpressConnect Enrollment System, automated device enablement technology from Cloudpath Networks. NDSU provides secure WiFi to more than 20,000 students, staff and visitors across 89 buildings campuswide, including student residence halls, as well in two outdoor locations.

XpressConnect ES combines secure onboarding with certificate management to ensure devices are connected with the appropriate policy based on both the user and the device. The technology enables every device to be uniquely identified through a smart, policy-associated certificate that eliminates passwords from the WiFi network and allows infrastructure-based control of network access.

Since 2008, NDSU's IT administration has reported an average growth of 3,000 new unique mobile devices per year – a rate that is not likely to slow down anytime soon, according to Marc Wallman, interim VP for information technology at NDSU.

"For more than a decade, our student body has continued to grow, and with the rapid expansion of unique devices per person (on average two or three per student), it's imperative to be proactive in onboarding new users and devices onto our WiFi network in a secure and timely fashion," explained Wallman in a prepared statement.

"We are able to streamline and automate IT processes to improve network upkeep and ensure higher turnover rates for device configuration at our help desk locations," he continued. "Initial feedback from the NDSU population has been expressions of shock — that is, people are shocked at how the new WiFi onboarding enrollment system 'just worked' without any help desk involvement. NDSU students and faculty on campus now are able to devote their time and energy to that which is most important — education."

About the Author

About the author: Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].

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