Thousands of Students Appreciate the Difference—and So Do IT Staff
Utah Valley University (UVU) is the second largest institution of higher learning in Utah with nearly 33,000 students and 5,000 faculty members. As a key provider of educational opportunity for its region and the state, UVU strives to accommodate growth while providing quality programs and services.
“UVU-WiFi” — the university’s wireless network, supporting more than 30,000 students and 5,000 faculty
Provide fast, easy network access for thousands of students without IT intervention
Ensure devices are secure, and provide easy self-remediation if they’re not
Provide granular access control to match different device types and user requirements
Fully automated network access for UVU students, faculty and guests using their personal devices
Access to the wireless network is nearly instantaneous
Students are much happier with their network service—and with the university for providing it
New opportunities to improve the classroom experience with mobile technology
Help Desk calls and walk-ins cut by half
UVU leadership recognized early on that BYOD is not just a “nice to have” feature, it’s an integral part of the university experience. Students and faculty members now expect to be able to use their personal devices on campus, not just for convenience but to take advantage of new learning opportunities made possible with mobile technology. The university needs to make it easy for them to do it, even when thousands of students are demanding access.
However, for several years UVU had been relying on a legacy Network Access Control (NAC) solution that was not designed for a BYOD environment. The university was paying the price. “Over the past few years we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of mobile devices connecting to our “UVU-WiFi” wireless network,” explains Duke Heaton, wireless network engineer at Utah Valley University. “This went hand in hand with a significant increase in the number of calls to our Help Desk because of associated network access and security problems. We knew we needed a new NAC solution that was easy to use and didn’t impact students—and lessen the burden on our Help Desk.
Utah Valley University selected Network Sentry from Bradford Networks to address the University’s key BYOD challenges. The software provides automated network access control that enables UVU students and faculty to use their own Windows, Mac or Linux based devices across campus. Unlike the previous solution, Network Sentry is purpose-built for BYOD, making life easier for students while dramatically reducing the number of calls to the Help Desk.
Ten days after going live, 5,500 students and faculty had signed up 6,600 unique devices to the “UVU-WiFi” using Network Sentry. Within two months there were over 20,000 users and 30,000 unique devices registered on the network.
Making BYOD Work at UVU
Bradford Networks’ Network Sentry solution automates the onboarding process at UVU. Students registering for the first time enter their log-in credentials to download Network Sentry’s NAC agent onto their device. The agent associates the device with the user and scans their machine, checking for the required operating system and antivirus software. If everything is up to date, the user is logged onto the network based on their access rights. “The next time a user opens his or her device to access the network, the connection is automatic and almost instantaneous,” commented Duke.
If any software is out of date, a message appears informing the user that they need to update their device, and providing a link to launch the update. This is a simple process that users can do themselves without calling the Help Desk. Once they’re compliant, they can immediately access the university network. “The on-boarding of personal devices is now so much easier and much, much faster than ever before, and we’ve seen a big drop in the number of calls and walk-ins to our Help Desk. What a difference it makes!”
Using Network Sentry, Duke and his colleagues can also set and modify flexible network access policies with point and click simplicity. “We just click or unclick the checkboxes to indicate what we want. The next time the agent does a scan, it checks for the new requirements,” added Duke.
On-boarding Options for Guests
Network Sentry also automates network access for guests and other visitors at the university. Using the policy controls, Duke can set up multiple access options for different types of guests – such as conference attendees, business guests and contractors. High school students get access that includes filtering that complies with the Children’s Internet Protection Act.
A new student life building and a new classroom building will both have BYOD built in as UVU continues to integrate mobility into the university experience. The university also plans to expand its use of BYOD in the classroom for example to allow students to take tests online using their personal devices.
Duke plans to expand Network Sentry to cover UVU’s wired networks in the near future, allowing automated access control campus-wide for nearly a thousand infrastructure devices such as security cameras, printers and scanners.