Casey Hergett, Executive Director of Operations and Infrastructure, Columbus State University
Columbus State University began using Riverbed’s wireless technology in 2014. We knew that we needed to build an enterprise wireless network that was not only fast but that could also respond to the changing needs in higher education. Students expect wireless connectivity on every square foot of campus as well as at many outdoor venues. The biggest challenge we faced was not making sure that the wireless speeds were as fast as possible, although we knew that was important. The biggest challenge we faced was making sure that we could handle the capacity demands placed on the wireless network as students congregated in large classrooms or gathering spaces as well as the ebb and flow of students as they moved around campus. We also knew it would be important to have a solution that would allow for seamless roaming of clients on our network.
One of the biggest issues in higher education for wireless connectivity is the fact that almost no one is stationary during the day. Students are constantly on the move with multiple devices and faculty and administrators are busily hurrying around campus between their various classes and meetings. Many faculty have even started leveraging the wireless network to take attendance in class as well as offer real-time surveys and quizzes during class.
One of the biggest issues in higher education for wireless connectivity is the fact that almost no one is stationary during the day
One other big challenge for enterprise wireless networks in higher education is the variety of devices that come and go from campus. While corporate networks may be able to limit the types of devices that can be used, higher education is much more open and cannot dictate such measures to control device behavior.
Riverbed’s software definable radio technology was a huge factor in our decision to go with Riverbed’s product versus other solutions. As each wave of new devices comes on campus in January (after Christmas) we see many more devices that are capable of connecting at 5Ghz instead of 2.4Ghz. Riverbed’s solution allows us to move 2.4Ghz radios to 5Ghz radios doubling the 5Ghz capacity on a single radio without having to deploy an additional radio to add capacity in the 5Ghz band. This is hugely important to us since we see faster shifts in technology than perhaps other wireless networks do in a non-education environment. Riverbed’s Application Control technology also helps us to maintain control of the wireless networks performance and capacity as certain update events occur. We have a lot of Apple products on campus and the ability to throttle the bandwidth used when a new version of iOS is released is very important. We can also apply those application control policies selectively among different profiles where faculty may not be as impacted as students in a certain building. This feature is also important if video streaming begins to impact the network’s performance. I’m also a huge fan of Riverbed’s cloud-based management platform, XMS cloud that allows us to monitor, report on, and make changes to our wireless network. As a director, it’s important for me to get timely and accurate data and information about the health and performance of the network.
Utilizing Riverbed’s cloud services also now means that we do not have to manage the upgrades and updates to the access points themselves. We are in control of when and how Riverbed does the upgrades but they do all the work to keep us on the latest firmware with the latest features. I’ve been very pleased with Riverbed’s wireless solution and I look forward to being able to utilize some of the newer products coming out that support the newer 802.11ax standards.