BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (PRWEB) August 12, 2019
With a master 10-year plan in place, University Information Technology Services (UITS) at Indiana University (IU) is in year one of a major network infrastructure overhaul. The UITS mission is to build up an administrative and learning environment that supports 250,000 concurrent devices utilized by students, faculty, staff and guests across all nine IU campuses. The university is in partnership with PIER Group LLC, a higher education IT consultancy company based out of Jasper, Ind., and Aruba Networks, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, to develop long-term strategies and provide assistance in deploying established solutions.
Most universities run on a decentralized network, employing hundreds of full- and part-time technology professionals who work in individual academic departments, but IU has chosen a centralized approach to networking.
“We’re building what’s called a ‘unified edge,’ which is rare in academia,” said Mark Spencer, UITS manager of campus network engineering. “Many universities have a core team that takes care of the central brains of a network, but individual departments buy and install their own equipment and tools on the network’s periphery. Our core network team takes care of the central brain and the edges as well. Also, we are merging the management and user experience of the wired and wireless networks so that they are much more similar, if not the same. Both of these factors, centralization and a unified approach to wired and wireless, cut down on resource redundancy, enhance focus, and ultimately create a better experience for students, faculty and guests.”
This resource consolidation strategy could establish IU as running one of the largest networks in the nation that is proportionally managed by one of the smallest technology teams. Just 45 employees are needed to handle nearly all of the university’s network operations, switching, routing, telecommunications and email.
“We are a ‘volume’ business, based on our large number of customers. With so many faculty, staff, and students on nine campuses, and all the different devices they use and attach to our network, our goal is operational efficiency. Installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting are infinitely more efficient in a homogenous environment,” said Kirt Guinn, director of telecommunications infrastructure at IU. “Within a year we’ll have a fully upgraded, cutting-edge network that will ensure high-speed connectivity and enhanced network security for up to 250,000 devices.”
What Students, Faculty Can Do on a Centralized Network
The commitment IU is making toward a centralized network has a massive impact on student experience and learning. One of the biggest advantages is the authentication strategy, which will provide much greater network security while also providing much simpler administration from an IT perspective. It will also be “overprovisioned’ with superior bandwidth, so students, faculty and staff can use streaming resources without clogging the network.
IU’s network will also be able to support activities such as:
- Anytime access from any wired or wireless device with the same password.
- Increased security for consumer devices including phones, gaming devices, TV streaming devices, digital assistants like Google and Alexa, smart watches, and other technology that connects to the internet.
- More complex and data-rich instructional technology in the classroom, such as real-time student quizzing and polling during lectures, 3-D applications and virtual laboratories. Any of these multimedia learning tools will be streamed wirelessly to any location, not just in media centers or designated locations.
- Improved analytics, allowing the IU administration to study everything from retention to public security. For example, a proposed analytics project will analyze the traffic flow on IU campuses and redeploy security personnel and cameras based on the results.
- A secure Internet of Things (IoT) environment. IoT devices, such as sensors and cameras, are typically vulnerable to attacks by hackers. At IU, as soon as these devices are connected to the centralized network, whether through a port or wirelessly, they are automatically protected by the unified edge, which provides a back-end security layer.
University Information Technology Services (UITS) tends to the modern, multifaceted technology environment at Indiana University. Each day, UITS works to develop and maintain a rich information-technology environment throughout the university that supports IU's vision for excellence in research, teaching, outreach, and lifelong learning. UITS offers technology resources that include a high-speed campus network, web hosting, a wide selection of free and low-cost software for personal use, tools and support for instruction and research, and supercomputers for data analysis and visualization.
About PIER Group
PIER Group (http://www.piergroup.com), which stands for “Partners In Education & Research,” is a Jasper, Indiana-based information technology consulting and implementation company that specializes in computing and networking for the education and research communities. For more than 20 years, the PIER Group team has worked with higher education institutions and research organizations to build next-generation research computing, innovative networking infrastructure solutions and high-performing data centers to help their clients gain a competitive edge and support critical research initiatives. The PIER Group team works closely with some of the industry’s most highly respected manufacturers, such as HPE and Aruba Networks, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company.
Media Relations Manager
IT Communications Office, Indiana University