Powering esports success in K-12 and Higher Ed

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If you’re being asked to support the rapidly accelerating adoption of esports in education, you’re not alone. With scholarships and jobs on the line, esports are now one of the hottest trends in K-12 and higher education academics and athletics, worldwide.

To assist you with meeting your esports networking needs of today and tomorrow, let’s take a look at the venues, infrastructure considerations and solution capabilities your school will require.

Emerging campus esports venues

For online matches and practices without spectators, esports facilities from classroom labs in K-12 to dedicated spaces at recreation centers and student unions for collegiate level club and varsity play. Meets are also frequently live-streamed externally for fans.

Venues for competitions with spectators include existing lecture halls, auditoriums and sports arenas at all education levels, with leading institutions designing and constructing purpose-built facilities for such in-person events. Spectators expect matches to stream on large format displays, as well as to their devices, and the capability to interact with others both within the venue and externally.

Higher education institutions are also developing plans for esports-centric residences, where pricing tiers can be developed to generate revenue for offsetting infrastructure requirements.

Key networking considerations

No matter where your students play, esports rely on both wired and wireless connections. This makes a variety of networking capabilities and other technologies critical for your intelligent edge.

  • Reliability and Resiliency – Although esports-specific network bandwidth requirements are typically minimal, around 1-2 Mbps, you’ll need enough bandwidth to accommodate all of your school’s Internet traffic. Additionally, esports require exceptionally low latency, optimally 5-10 ms, and high availability (HA).
  • Hassle-free Flexibility -– Schools using existing facilities for esports competitions and tournaments require the ability to add infrastructure flexibly and simply is critical for keeping overhead low.
  • Unified Management – Administrating wired and wireless networks as a unified solution is becoming an increasingly preferred strategy for reducing day-to-day management burdens and fulfilling new esports expectations.
  • AI-Powered and Self-Healing – To maximize QoS while minimizing administrative tasks, you need an intelligent solution with AIOps for leading-edge automation and self-healing capabilities.
  • Analytics-Rich with Intuitive Insights – Extensive analytics capabilities, delivered as actionable insights, using intuitive dashboards, give you information to fix issues fast.
  • Zero-Trust Security – All esports programs need a zero-trust security solution that keeps players secure from hacks and provides spectators with seamless connectivity experience. Accomplish this with a fabric-based network and a role-based access control solution.
  • Location-aware – For schools hosting in-person competitions and tournaments, location-aware infrastructure provides additional opportunities for keeping participants safe while generating revenue.
  • Expert Support – When issues happen you need experts who understand both educational institutions and esports. Best-of-breed solutions supply your IT department with end-to-end design, implementation and training support.

Aruba’s future-proof solution for esports in education

Ready to delight your esports players and their fans? Here’s our recommendations for providing exceptional gaming experiences at venues of all sizes.

CX Switches

As wired switches remain the most reliable and resilient choice for ultra-low latency gaming, Aruba recommends the CX Switching family, featuring the fully-programmable Aruba-OS CX operating system and delivering advanced insights with Aruba’s Network Analytics Engine (NAE).

Wi-Fi 6/6e

Students are starting to favor wireless, especially for mobile gaming and, in some regions, it’s actually preferred over wired. With the advent of Wi-Fi 6e, more student competitions may be conducted via wireless. Regardless, for spectator involvement during in-person matches, Wi-Fi remains the best technology for fan access and event live-streaming.

In addition to premier connectivity, Aruba Wi-Fi includes AI-enabled NetInsight, for proactively optimizing data, voice, and video, and RFProtect for preventing denial-of-service and man-in-the-middle attacks while mitigating other over-the-air security threats.

Aruba Central for Unified Management and AIOps

AI-powered Aruba Central is the intuitive management and orchestration console for the Aruba ESP (Edge Services Platform). Unifying wired and wireless LAN, WAN, and VPN administration, it can be implemented as cloud-delivered or deployed as Central On-prem and includes a full-service AIOps solution comprised of:

  • AI Insights: Automatically surfaces and diagnoses an array of common network-impacting issues.
  • AI Assist: Event-driven automation collects and posts diagnostics as well as generating a ticket and even notifying Aruba for proactive customer support.
  • AI Search: A natural language processing (NLP) engine of the Aruba Central data lake, it points to solution guides, troubleshooting tips, and more.

By eliminating manual troubleshooting, Central can help you solve issues up to 90% faster. You can also tap into anonymized peer benchmarks for optimal configuration settings based on performance levels at peer sites, such as esports venues.

User Experience Insight (UXI)

For complete understanding of application and network health, measure it from the perspective of end users with AI-powered Aruba User Experience Insight (UXI). It delivers continuous monitoring and testing of wireless, wired, and WAN performance, with anomalies reported directly to the Aruba Central dashboard or via the dedicated UXI interface.

ClearPass for Real-Time Zero Trust

As a long-term leader in Zero Trust Security, Aruba’s ClearPass Policy Manager supplies role-based access and enacts real-time connectivity policies. It also integrates with the CX Switching family for unified wired and wireless policy enforcement via Aruba’s Dynamic Segmentation. And, by adding ClearPass Device Insight, you can reveal unidentified and unmanaged devices on your network.

Location Services

Gain location awareness with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and Zigbee built into Aruba’s Wi-Fi 6/6e APs for cost-effectively adopting location services. As beacons for mobile engagement, readers for asset tracking, or a platform for contact tracing, location-aware APs can assist you with public health mandates while enabling you to deliver proximity based refreshment and merchandise offers to drive engagement and revenues.

 Foundation Care and Pro Care

We’ve staked our reputation on providing exceptional support, no matter what your school’s size. Count on our Aruba Technical Assistance Center (TAC) engineers or step up to priority services with Aruba Foundation Care and Aruba Pro Care. We also supply comprehensive training and certification programs for empowering your IT staff.

To learn more about Aruba’s K-12 and higher education esports solution, check out the Esports in Education solution overview, here.