IoT on the Higher Ed Campus: Where Student Devices Aren’t the Only Challenge!

By Gerri Hinkel, Director Solutions and Vertical Marketing Manager
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The Campus "City"

When someone hears the words "Higher Education," it's natural to first think of it as a place of learning. And yes, Higher Education is meant to produce well-educated graduates, but the Higher Education campus is more than that. It is a place where people work, research, play, socialize, and live.  It functions like a small city!  In addition to departments that focus on academic studies, there are "city" departments that focus on facilities, grounds, security, sports, food services, and the list goes on. While these groups serve students and faculty, they also bring challenges to IT staff and Wi-Fi services.

 From the Mouth of IT

A few weeks ago at Aruba's Atmosphere conference, I was fortunate to participate in many discussions with Higher Education customers.  During those conversations, I benefited greatly by gaining insight into the challenges faced on the campus today. One of my "ah ha" moments centered on IoT-enabled environments introduced on the Wi-Fi network by the "city" departments discussed above. Facilities want Wi-Fi door locks; security requires Wi-Fi cameras; food services needs Wi-Fi controlled get the idea. Given the challenges these IoT environments might pose to networks, what I overwhelmingly heard from IT staff was a desire to be supportive of all groups and devices.  That supportive feeling, however, can quickly turn to heartburn when a device appears on the network with no identity and no "owner!"  Ideally, IT is involved pre-introduction of the device with plenty of lead-time for a flawless deployment. At a minimum, whether pre-planning for the deployment occurs or not, IT needs the ability to profile IoT devices so they can have confidence in a secure network with maximum uptime.

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Getting Closer to Zero Risk

As I was listening to the pains caused by IoT introductions to the Higher Ed campus, I had to feel a sense of pride that Aruba could help.  We understand that Higher Education environments are demanding.  We get that device diversity and proliferation can be tricky.  We know that there is a need to secure the network from the challenges IoT presents.  I heard from many customers that they don't expect zero risk, but choosing solutions that get them close to zero risk is important. I encourage you to learn more about how Aruba is innovating and moving Higher Ed networks closer to zero risk.  A great place for you to begin getting educated on Aruba ClearPass enhancements is by reading Keerti Melkote's blog "The network must protect the Internet of Things" and then visit Aruba's "Internet of Things" page for resources and white papers.