Robust Wireless Solution Connects Students On-Campus and Across the Globe

Introduction

St. Edward’s is a private, liberal arts Catholic university in the Holy Cross Tradition with approximately 4,600 students. Located in Austin, Texas, with a network of partner universities around the world, St. Edward’s is a diverse community that offers undergraduate and graduate programs designed to inspire students with a global perspective. St. Edward’s University has been recognized for 14 consecutive years as one of “America’s Best Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report and ranks in the top 20 of Best Regional Universities in the Western Region. St. Edward’s has also been recognized by Forbes and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity.

Wireless Is Where It’s At

Not too long ago, wireless connectivity on campuses was a nice-to-have, but today wireless is not an option. As students evaluate colleges, it’s not a question of if there is a wireless network but how well it works. In fact, a wireless network that allows students quick and reliable access to the applications that are important to them, such as social media apps and Facetime, has become a competitive differentiator for helping colleges and universities attract and retain students.

Although St. Edward’s University had supported BYOD from the beginning, with the amount of devices growing to 7-8 devices per student, they wanted to make sure that students and faculty could easily get on the wireless network from any type of device and gain access to the applications that are important to them. To continue to provide a reliable wireless infrastructure to connect faculty and staff in 30 buildings and 8 residence halls and 1 apartment complex across the 100+ acre main campus, as well as with their sister campus in France, St. Edward’s looked to modernize their network with a solution that would be cost-effective and simplify the management of the network.

Technology That’s In a Class Of Its Own

With the three objectives of reliability of the wireless infrastructure, ease-of troubleshooting and total cost of ownership (TCO) in mind, St. Edward’s evaluated several vendors, but ended up staying with Extreme Networks for the upgrade of their network. “There are a lot of vendors out there that provide reliable wireless that works, but we want more from the companies we work with. Extreme rose to the top because they continue to build the relationship after the sale and try to understand our current and future needs,” said Roberto Dovalina, Associate Director of Digital Infrastructure.

There were many technical elements that also influenced the decision to go with Extreme. According to Benjamin Hockenhull, Associate VP for Digital Innovation, “The Extreme technology was truly enterprise class, something other vendors only claimed to be, and the technology roadmap was keeping pace with stateof-the-art.” Offering more than just a pretty interface, the new wave of Extreme APs proved to be robust enough to connect the universities’ 7,000+ simultaneous users and handle high traffic areas.

Another compelling reason for choosing the Extreme solution was their ability to integrate the management platform with the existing workflows at St. Edward’s and allow the network to be managed from one place, therefore reducing TCO. “We didn’t want a solution that would take 4 or 5 technicians to manage. We wanted to hit the easy button and Extreme’s ability to simplify how we use and manage the network is something that put Extreme over the edge,” said Dovalina.

The faster Extreme solution makes it possible for St. Edward’s to provide a reliable, highly robust, easy-to-use wireless network for students, faculty and staff that doesn’t generate a lot of calls to the help desk, and doesn’t require additional support personnel. A fast, easy to use wireless network makes them look good.

A+ Customer Service

Because the new intuitive network does not require as many resources to manage it, the St. Edward’s IT staff is able to move from working to keep the lights on to more fulfilling and innovative work such as interacting with their customers and collaborating on ways to bring more value to the university. The IT staff is able to focus their attention on the initiative to become a more global university as they look to identify compelling technology to provide instruction and enhance the learning experience. The new network will make it possible for them to allow students and faculty to connect, communicate and collaborate with their 21 partner universities across the globe.

Hockenhull continues to be impressed by the Extreme Management Center and the visibility and real insights into the network that it provides. This has made the job of managing the network easier and contributed to lower staffing requirements. “Because of the dashboards which provide information and real insight into everything on the network, we have moved from being reactive and putting out fires to having visibility into the network. We can now see trends emerge so we can proactively address issues before users are impacted.”

While the Extreme technology has provided a faster, more robust network that students love, at the end of the day it all comes down to customer support and service. “I have worked with a lot of vendors in my 10-years of working in technology and I have not come across another company that has the same level of customer support as Extreme,” said Dovalina who names customer support as one of the main reasons they love and stay with Extreme.

Future plans include adding ExtremeAnalytics for deeper network insights and looking into the ExtremeCloud cloud-managed wireless solution to better enable the management of their global partnerships and distributed locations around the world.