The New Network Skeleton
Sonty says that from working with Extreme, the college built a new network on an ecosystem that should last between seven to 10 years.
“We were able to put together our own map, where my goal was to make sure [what we had invested in] would have a seven to 10 year product life, because most of the tech products come to end of life very quickly and our college has limited funding and resources,” he says. “We wanted to make sure we factored in product design and look at different “ends of life,” etc. That was helpful for us.”
Utica’s new ecosystem features:
• ExtremeWireless – C5210 and AP 3825i
• ExtremeSwitching – S-Series, X460-G2 and X670
• ExtremeControl – Control Center, Identity & Access Control
• ExtremeAnalytics – Application Analytics
On top of that, “Utica [has] video throughout the campus and all the areas with 360 degrees, night vision by 30 plus cameras, which are all putting data onto the network,” says Bob Nilsson, director of solutions marketing at Extreme. “There’s a security management system, a card swipe system with controllers on the network, so it’s very important that the wireless and whole network be completely reliable and the visibility is provided there at all times.”
Plus, the college can now better monitor network usage, and hone in on problems or attacks when they occur.
“Some of the other advantages…[are] we are able to quickly monitor resource utilization, bandwidth utilization, application utilization of the network, and find a user that’s chewing up a lot of our bandwidth,” Sonty says. “We’re able to look at the user, see if it’s a wireless attack, and we can zero in and look at the applications that are performing badly. …We…monitor the website for response time, and we’re able to see where the issues are for users.”
Tips to Rebuilding Your College’s Network
1) Plan now, build later
Nilsson says before pulling the trigger on a network upgrade, colleges should do as much planning up front as possible.
That way, IT can estimate where loads are going to end up, and how to layout the overall network.
Plus, IT and additional tech support can use reference points, such as analytics, to check on how the network is running.
“The two real reasons for the analytics is one, to see where the command is growing,” Nilsson says. “It’s so hard to predict in the Wi-Fi world, it’s kind of dead space in a period of time, and could turn into an area where students aggregate, and it grows there. Even short term planning, the quality of the user experience is so important, particularly now when it becomes a decision factor, where students won’t go to a college if the Wi-Fi is not up to snuff. With analytics, you can see what the user experience is, even before they complain, see a bottleneck and fix it.”
2) Identify priorities
Sonty says colleges should consider what their priorities are before investing in a network makeover.
Considering network needs will help the college weed out which features they don’t need, and which ones they can’t live without.
“Anything we undertake, [we think], is it really helping our students’ and faculty’s experience?” Sonty says. “For us, we were going into collaboration spaces, etc., and for that, we needed the right infrastructure. We started with serving our students and faculty, understanding their needs, making sure that everything was met. We…put together a robust technology plan and delivered on that. Without infrastructure, you can’t do anything.”