San Diego Community College District Reaps the Benefits of Centralized Network Management

The San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) provides accessible, high-quality learning experiences, and undergraduate education at an affordable price to meet the educational needs of the San Diego community and the state of California. SDCCD offers associate degrees, certificates, and transfer programs to help students across the spectrum further their education at its three-diverse college and continuing education campuses. In addition, San Diego Mesa College offers a bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management.

To better serve their 100,000 students and 7,000 faculty and staff, SDCCD deployed an Extreme Networks wired and wireless solution to allow their small IT staff to centrally manage their large campus infrastructure and provide reliable, secure access to simultaneously connect 75,000 people and enhance the 21st Century learning experience.

Struggling to Support a Massive Campus

SDCCD needed to provide a reliable network infrastructure to support a BYOD program and real-time video streaming for over 100,000 students at three college campuses and seven continuing education campuses. It was important that the students, faculty, and staff could easily and securely access the resources needed to fulfill their education requirements.

The network was required to securely support a variety of applications such as VOIP telephony, Microsoft Office suites, Oracle PeopleSoft ERP, and hundreds of departmental software programs. In addition, the wireless infrastructure needed to be capable of supporting education-specific applications and devices such as on-line learning via BlackBoard, on-line testing, and hand-held scanners and tablets.

It was clear that without a centralized management model, SDCCD’s support technicians would never be able to manage the number of users, as many as 30,000 on each campus at any given time, the increasing number of devices, and the large geographical area the campus covers.

Reliable Network Meets Simple Management

When it came to selecting a networking vendor for the upgrade – reliability was a key requirement. It was also important to the IT staff to have a reliable relationship with the chosen vendor, so they could help SDCCD remain educated on industry trends through knowledge transfers between the vendor and the college’s staff and engineers. Ease of operation and administration, as well as overall cost, were deciding factors. SDCCD chose Extreme for their ability to meet all of their requirements with a high-power, reliable, and cost-effective solution that allows their small IT staff to simply manage a massive network.

With a complete wired and wireless solution in place, including over 600 Wi-Fi access points to provide reliable indoor and outdoor coverage at most of the campuses, students now have full coverage to all the resources they need to meet their educational requirements. “Network reliability, accessibility, and security have greatly improved with the upgrade and the feedback from students has been very positive,” said Donald Bertram, director of information technology. “Over the last 10 years our district has increased funding for the network infrastructure with a large portion of funding going toward Extreme solutions. All buildings have been upgraded and brought online with Extreme hardware,” said Eric Brown, manager of network and PC services.

The solution has given the IT staff a great deal of visibility into the network and enables them to be more proactive. Extreme’s centralized management platform has been especially beneficial in allowing the IT staff to easily manage the large number of users and devices across the very large campus area. “The different tool sets that are available give us a lot more flexibility, so we don’t need to go manually from switch to switch or log in one at a time to make changes. This has been a tremendous help and has made our life much easier,” said Brown. In addition, Policy Manager, part of the Extreme Management Center, has given SDCCD a new level of security by providing the ability to limit network access.

More Than a Solution

SDCCD considers Extreme to be one of their most trusted vendors, and feels that a strong business partnership has been established between the district and Extreme. “Consistency is very important to us and over the years, despite acquisitions, everything has been consistent,” said Brown.

According to Bertram, “Extreme has provided us with a very stable, reliable, cost-effective solution. We consider Extreme to be more than just a solution provider; they are a valuable partner to our educational institution.” In fact, Extreme has always been the vendor SDCCD compares everyone else to!

As SDCCD looks to improve campus security with expanded video surveillance across the network and enhance the classroom experience with virtual reality, they have no doubt that Extreme will continue to provide the same reliable and secure connectivity the college has come to value and trust over their 10+ year relationship with Extreme. According to Brown, “Over the years, Extreme has added some robust features to what we have deployed – as a result our network keeps growing and getting better!”

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