Kean University Makes the Grade with ExtremeWireless


New Jersey’s Third-Largest Public University Creates Consumer-Like Experience with Extreme.

When parents send their children o to college, they’re entrusting the school to provide familiar creature comforts. For many students these days, that means Wi-Fi access to handle online research, communications – and yes, streaming video and gaming. Kean University, which prides itself on its commitment to student success, couldn’t meet that need with its centrally- controlled legacy network. To eliminate bottlenecks and provide the best possible Wi-Fi experience for end users, Kean University moved to the Extreme Wireless LAN 9100 Series.

The University was facing a typical challenge for educational institutions: instead of arriving on campus with just one or two devices, some students would have as many as five that needed to be connected to the campus- wide Wi-Fi. Add in students who commute to campus and their devices, and the legacy network was stretched thin. The biggest challenge for the university was the end user experience, and the solution it chose would need to support not only existing devices but also the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) that the IT team predicted would further stretch network capacity.

Extreme Makes the Grade

Kean University is no stranger to Extreme solutions. The University uses an all-Extreme infrastructure for networking and voice, and it made sense to bring in Wi-Fi devices to complement the VSP 9000, VSP 7000, VSP 8400, ERS 5900, ERS 5500, and ERS 4800 products already in place. IT did its due diligence, investigating other solutions to deliver Wi-Fi to residence halls, classrooms, the library, and throughout campus. However, Extreme Wireless LAN 9100 Series fit all the criteria: it was scalable to meet future needs, offered application control to help manage bandwidth, and competitive from a price standpoint. It would also provide better security and reliability to protect students and the University.

“I like Extreme’s completeness of vision. They’re not looking at the voice, data, and Wi-Fi networks as separate entities but as a uni ed communications infrastructure,” Marinello says. “The whole cornerstone is the groundbreaking innovation from SPB, woven into every product, which allows us functionality, flexibility, and levels of security that weren’t there before.”

Kean University worked very closely with Extreme for the deployment. It needed to roll out the new network seamlessly, without faculty or students being impacted – something that can be difficult to do with students’ irregular schedules. Ultimately, the IT team decided on a phased deployment and has converted approximately half the campus to the new network: the residence halls, main academic building, and high user density areas, with the rest to follow in the next year.

“The feedback in the areas where the Wi-Fi was deployed has been tremendous,” says Joe Marinello, Director of IT. “From our perspective, one of the best compliments they give us is that it’s just like at home.”

A More Efficient IT Deployment Situation

So that Wi-Fi would o er better security and reliability, Kean University turned to other Extreme products: VSP switches and Fabric Connect. The University still needed to support over 15,000 students, plus faculty and staff. With limited human resources, a network that could automatically configure itself would allow the IT department to be more efficient. The network identifies the device and adds it to the network, which has cut down on installation time.

“Leveraging devices that support fabric-attached devices, like video surveillance cameras, really puts the institution ahead of the game and allows us to use resources more efficiently,” notes Marinello. “It takes minutes, not hours, to deploy access points – as long as it takes for someone to physically change the device.”

An added benefit of using Extreme Fabric Connect for SPB: because it’s so easy to add devices to the network, the University now has more leverage with resellers for negotiation purposes, since fewer labor hours are needed. “The fabric-attached devices allow us to be in that position; we have not found anything in the industry that even comes close to it,” Marinello adds.

Smart Campus

In addition to the consumerization of the Wi-Fi system, the University also has a vision of using the wireless network to push information to devices, much like a retail store at the mall. For example, a student or visitor would walk on campus, log into the Wi-Fi, and be able to take a guided tour using the location-based services on the Wireless LAN 9100 devices.

They could get information pushed to them about a specific art display when walking past a museum on campus, or a notification about a basketball game that evening when walking past the arena.

“One of the challenges all campuses face is the wealth of both academic and extracurricular activities,” Marinello says.

“Universities often struggle with making students aware of everything they have to o er, and technology is going to be the foundation to enhance these experiences.”

Using the Wireless LAN 9100 Series is part of the path to get to that campus of the future, Marinello adds. While it’s still in the early planning phases, a ‘campus of the future’ is on the horizon, with more of a consumer experience for technology services provided by the university.

“Technology is important to the future of Kean University and its students, and Extreme is enabling our vision of 21st century learning,” says Dr. Dawood Farahi, President of Kean University.

Learn More

For more information, contact your Extreme Account Manager or a member of the Extreme Networks program, or access other materials by clicking on Resource Library at

Download Case Study