Aspire Helps University Build a Stronger Foundation For Learning

Industry: Higher Education

Practice Area: Enterprise Networks

Number of Students & Faculty: 4,872 students and 212 faculty members

Founded in 1891, this university has a proud heritage as one of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and one of the country’s first land-grant educational institutions. Today it is a center of learning for nearly 4,900 undergrad and postgraduate students. The university sits on a 356-acre campus made up of a mix of centuries-old buildings as well as more modern facilities – all supporting student learning and some of the country’s most skilled researchers discovering new innovations in the fields of medicine, military defense, agriculture, and much more.

Challenge: Creating a more resilient, connected learning environment

Supporting the technology needs of dozens of research groups—in addition to university staff and students—is hard enough. But it’s particularly daunting when the network infrastructure is outdated and prone to poor performance and prolonged outages. The university’s network consisted of a mix of End of Life / End of Support switching infrastructure that made it a challenge to offer the services needed to support the university’s growing needs. The campus wireless environment was also built on legacy technology. The proliferation of wireless devices accessing resources caused network saturation and sluggish performance. Moreover, the existing PBX phone system was outdated and represented a significant annual cost.

Solution: A single platform delivering greater student learning experiences

Aspire designed a solution to deliver a future‐proof network built to support growing network traffic demands, ubiquitous wireless for users, enhanced security, seamless unified communications, and simplified manageability for administrative IT staff. To power the single, converged, highly available network, the institution turned to Cisco. At the heart of the solution is a Cisco end-to-end wired and wireless network. Combining high performance with manageability, Aspire’s architecture design featured Cisco Catalyst 9K switches at the Core and Distribution Layers. For the Access Layer supporting device connectivity, Meraki cloud managed switches and Meraki wireless access points were used. The network refresh consisted of over 275 switches and 1200 access points.

Results: Helping the university deliver on its vision

The solution aligns with IT and university leadership’s vision to provide a learning environment and experience that meets the expectations of today’s students.

Additional benefits include:

  • A network that provides a foundation for learning and student services that’s always on and always available
  • Real-time communications across the campus to enhance faculty collaboration and student outcomes
  • Safeguard student information with end-to-end security to maintain compliance and minimize risk
  • More intelligent, simplified manageability for administrative IT staff

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