The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, known as the “Flagship of the Delta”, is an 1890 Land-Grant HBCU with a diverse student population, competitive degree offerings and stellar faculty. For more than 140 years, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff has worked to create an environment that inculcates learning, growth and productivity while affording a basic need to its students – a chance to advance. The 15:1 student to teacher ratio makes it possible to maintain a learning environment with close interaction between students and faculty while challenging curricula encourage our students to seek and fulfill their potential. You can excel in your chosen field of study through a curriculum of Certificate and Associates degree programs, more than thirty Undergraduate programs, Master’s degree programs and a Doctorate program in Aquaculture/Fisheries.
With a ‘students-first’ philosophy, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff knew a network upgrade would be necessary to support a student, staff and faculty BYOD policy and provide fast, secure and reliable network access. To support mobility, virtualization and a growing BYOD environment while reducing the management burden for a network staff of two, the University of Arkansas selected Extreme to replace their entire Cisco infrastructure.
With BYOD and mobility on the rise, security was a key challenge for the University. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff needed a way to track users and see what they were doing on the network. With everything from email to LMS to ERP to video conferencing and more running over the network, it was crucial to have a reliable network that could handle bandwidth intensive applications while providing fast, reliable service to users and high-availability to critical educational apps across their 320 acre campus.
A very small budget and network staff required University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff to look for a cost-effective solution that would allow them to easily manage their wired and wireless network and provide the ability to change, manage and update all network apps from one central location. In addition, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff required a solution that provided automated capabilities for setting policy that would allow them to see what types of devices were on the network and what protocols they were using.
With Cisco, their maintenance costs were on the rise year-overyear as frequent product End-of Life (EOL) would require them to make constant changes. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff was looking to reduce operations and maintenance costs and see a return on their investment.
Extreme Networks Solution
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff worked with implementation partner IK Electric to refresh their network. They decided to replace their Cisco infrastructure with Extreme because the product had all the capabilities they were looking for and all the Extreme customers they talked to had consistently spoken of good experiences. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff also found Extreme to be a trustworthy vendor with support expertise that would allow them to reduce their overall annual maintenance costs (no more constant EOL changes) and increase their ROI.
With an Extreme wired and wireless solution including S-Series CoreFlow switches, Mobile IAM, Network Access Control (NAC) and NetSight network management, the network is more secure and more efficient which means a more productive student body and IT staff. “Extreme has given us the ability to see what type of devices are on the network and what protocols they are using which has enabled us to develop security strategies to deny or limit network access,” said Willette Totten, Director of Technical Services at the University of Arkansas. This has proven to be especially helpful with students bringing different types of devices to campus, such as iPhones, because University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff can now set policy per device.
With less network- and hardware-related issues to respond to, the two-person IT staff is able to focus on integrating new technologies for their campus. They are most pleased with the wireless solution which was easily deployed and is easy to manage. With more and more students and staff using wireless devices, the Extreme solution allows them to pinpoint users and devices on the network and make and push out policy from a central dashboard without the need to touch each device – a huge time saver.
The Extreme network upgrade allowed the University to simply manage a wide variety of applications running over the network, improve productivity for their small network staff and reduce costs.
- Secure, reliable infrastructure. Installed with minimal downtime, the new infrastructure allows University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff to support a wide variety of applications (including an eWatch video surveillance system and 24×7 TV and radio) running over the network while reducing bottlenecks and providing fast, secure network access for students, faculty and staff. According to Totten, “The users can see the difference and they actually tell us the network is better.”
- Increased productivity. The IT staff of two is benefiting from being able to manage all applications from one console and being able to centrally deploy changes without having to physically touch each piece of equipment. The OneFabric dashboard allows for the pinpointing of users and devices on the network making it easier for the IT team to upgrade firmware and manage switches and APs. “With Extreme our IT team is more efficient. We don’t receive as many complaints, making our job easier and allowing us to focus on integrating other technologies for our campus,” says Totten.
- Reduced costs. With their previous Cisco network, maintenance costs had been increasing year-over-year due to the constant End-of-Life of products. The Extreme limited lifetime warranty on their equipment has enabled operations and maintenance cost savings and has allowed University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff to see a return on their investment.
Totten says, “I deal with a lot of different vendors and Extreme ranks among the top for having a great sales and support staff.” As a land grant institution that is very small in size and budget, Totten says, “The easy-to-manage Extreme solution gave us the ability to have one of the top networks in the State of Arkansas System with only two people on-campus to support it.”
The new Extreme infrastructure made it possible for University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff to install their first Supercomputer on campus with no problem interoperating with other current switches. University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff is confident that their new infrastructure will prepare them to handle the continued mobile and BYOD growth and allow them to provide University-owned devices in the future.