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Tackling the new demands of education networks

Gavin May - Monday, April 27, 2020
Tackling the new demands of education networks

As the technology around us rapidly evolves, nowhere is this evolution being seen more clearly than in education networks. Gone are the days of static learning on whiteboards and physical textbooks, as the four walls of the classroom have blurred to enable learning in any location across school grounds and university campuses.

For network administrators and IT managers in these education environments, they are tasked with meeting the new demands of next-generation devices, applications and users – whether they are students, faculty or guests. How do they go about delivering the always-on connectivity and user experience that network users are accustomed to?

All devices great and small

We know that 90% of Australian school-age students now have access to a computer on campus, and that number is likely to be 100% for universities. In addition, students connect a range of mobile phones, tablets, gaming devices and wearables onto school networks.

The challenge isn’t just connecting these devices in one classroom. As students move from one location to the next, their devices are often still running which means the network requires well-configured access points in the right locations to enable this seamless mobility.

When we consider the types of devices education networks will be supporting in the near future, such as 3D printers, coding kits, video labs, IoT, VR and AR, the sheer density of data flowing across networks will be exponentially higher than it is today. 

Dynamic learning content

Not only have the devices changed rapidly, but so has the types of content used within every level of teaching curriculum. With large amounts of video and audio being streamed across hundreds or even thousands of devices simultaneously, the demand for high performance network capacity and bandwidth is sky high.

In addition, Learning Management Systems (LMS) and other teaching portals have become highly complex systems in which lessons are uploaded to the cloud by teachers while students also submit assignments and other material to cloud systems. Enabling always-on, real-time access to these cloud portals is another significant drain on network resources.

Pervasive but invisible security

When it comes to cybersecurity in education, attackers prefer to use social engineering tactics to gain access to data. Research has found that human error, social engineering, and inadequately secured email credentials are the most common sources of breaches across education.

Yet network administrators cannot get in the way of students as they learn. This means that security solutions need to operate seamlessly in the background. Achieving this balance requires a zero-trust approach to security in which you can:

  • Gain visibility into everything on your network;
  • Use centralised policies to control network access;
  • Segment the network intelligently;
  • Use AI to detect attacks and response faster.

To help you achieve this zero-trust approach, Aruba ClearPass offers agentless visibility and dynamic role-based access control for seamless security enforcement and response across your wired and wireless school networks. As part of Aruba’s industry-leading network technology, these are the ideal solutions for powering the next-generation of education networks while keeping your students and sensitive data secure.

At Trident, we have extensive experience in designing and deploying high performing education networks for institutions of every size. As an Aruba Gold partner, we bring a consultative approach to creating the ideal network solution for driving secure learning outcomes. If you would like to discuss the network challenges your school faces, please feel free to get in touch with us today. 

 

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