Nazareth College Creates Unified, Resilient, Easy-to-Manage Network for a Bright Future


Nazareth College’s academic strengths cross an unusually broad spectrum of 60 majors, including education, health and human services, management, the fine arts, music, theater, math and science, foreign languages, and liberal arts. The coeducational, religiously-independent, classic campus in a charming suburb of Rochester, N.Y., challenges and supports 2,000 undergrads and 800 graduate students. Nazareth is recognized nationally for its Fulbright global student scholars and commitment to civic engagement. Rigorous programs, an uncommon arts and sciences core, experiential learning, career skills, and a global focus prepare graduates for not just one job, but for their life’s work.

“When it was time for a wireless network upgrade, my team worked shoulder-to-shoulder with Extreme to design, script, and test the 802.11ac Wave 2 deployment. I value the tight collaborative partnership we’ve developed because it has led to great efficiencies for our solution.” Vince Anderson, Director of Enterprise and Network Solutions, Nazareth College

Goal: A Superb Wireless Experience for all Users

Not unlike most 21st century colleges, Nazareth College relies heavily on their network to connect 3,700 students, faculty and staff and their 8,500 unique devices across 30 buildings and 11 residence halls. The network supports learning initiatives with iPads and Apple TV, lecturecapture and on-demand playback, Smartboards, assistive technology for students with disabilities, integrations with Cloud applications, and much, much more. To say that wireless connectivity is important to the success of the college would be an understatement.

The BYOD explosion presented a challenge to Nazareth’s existing wireless network, which struggled to meet the increasing connectivity and bandwidth demands of students, faculty, and staff. The Wi-Fi network became a challenge for IT staff, leading to frequent fire-fighting. To ensure the college could keep up with current and future Wi-Fi demands, and stop the frequent firefighting, Nazareth College set an ambitious strategic goal: deliver flawless wireless connectivity by providing a fully integrated network that is robust, resilient, and straightforward to manage

Wi-Fi That’s One and Done

As Nazareth evaluated options, it was critical to find an integrated solution. With a small network management team, they didn’t have the bandwidth to dedicate specialists to a variety of hardware, rather they needed all team members to be trained and up-to-speed on one technology to allow them to deepen and build their skill set. After evaluating all the major players, Nazareth was won over by Extreme’s ability to seamlessly integrate their wired and wireless networks.

The visibility and control that Extreme offered was the main capability that drove the decision to go with Extreme. “We liked the visibility that came with Extreme and the fact that everything is built to work together. We are able to view both the wired and wireless networks from a single pane of glass”, said Vince Anderson, director of enterprise & network solutions at Nazareth College. By standardizing on the latest wireless technology, Nazareth ensured that their investment was future-proofed. “We knew we were going to deploy a wireless and wired infrastructure once; we wouldn’t have the luxury or ability to deploy a new environment multiple times. Working with the latest gear – Wave 2 of 802.11ac – allowed us to make an investment that is going to last for years to come.”

Over the past summer and fall, Nazareth swept through the entire campus to implement the best solutions that would be designed for the right density and usage. The entire campus is now unified on Extreme – from core switching and routing, to edge switching, as well as wireless in all those areas.

The immediate benefits of the upgrade include stability, faster throughput, and reliable connectivity. Replacing the legacy equipment with 10G uplinks, implementing improved loop protection and policies, creating a resilient design with no single point of failure and adding more throughput –40G or more in most places – has resulted in a more reliable, fast, and predictable network. “With our properly-designed Extreme wireless network, connectivity hasn’t been an issue. We no longer have any delays or surprises, and the network beautifully handles a large amount of multicast and IPV6 traffic generated by connected devices,” said Anderson. Having a homogenous environment has made supporting the environment much easier.

“We liked the visibility that came with Extreme and the fact that everything is built to work together. We are able to view both the wired and wireless networks from a single pane of glass.” Vince Anderson, Director of Enterprise and Network Solutions Nazareth College.

Connectivity That Goes Beyond Expectations

The original goal of improving the student’s wireless experience has been achieved. According to Anderson, the management team and students are extraordinarily happy to have Wi-Fi that works like a utility. “Everything operates effectively on the network, there are no issues to report. With no fires to fight, we can plan for the future and the network capabilities we want instead of just trying to fix issues and manage the network.”

While the new network was designed for connectivity and high throughput in the classrooms, the performance delivered has been well beyond Nazareth’s expectations. Students are able to roam across the campus and continually remain connected. This is an improvement compared to Nazareth’s previous network solutions. “Students are now continuously connected to the Wi-Fi, even when they change classes or move from place to place on campus, and can work on assignments from anywhere.”

Nazareth’s IT team describes themselves as having an ideal technical environment and they enjoy being handson when it comes to the network. They really appreciate the unique support Extreme offers – giving them space to handle the aspects of the network they are comfortable with, while always being ready to jump right in to help and offer solutions when asked. Anderson says working with Extreme has been great. “We have a hands-on technical team and wanted to be involved in every phase. Partnering with Extreme has been a perfect mix and balance.”

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