As with most enterprises today, the educational sector faces exponential growth in mobility, increased security challenges, and legacy networks that struggle with unprecedented demands. But educational organizations often face an additional challenge: Legacy infrastructures initially designed to provide basic support for administrators and teaching staff now also must support students and a variety of high-bandwidth applications.
In the following three case studies, HP shows how SDN for education is helping organizations to reap high ROI and reduce operating costs, improve operational performance, and security.
With only one IT professional to manage and secure its networks, the South Washington County Schools System needed an easier way to maintain stringent security and manage both wired and wireless networks across 31 sites. After reviewing proposals for expensive hardware-based security, the Minnesota district chose an HP SDN solution that was deployed in less than an hour and saved the district hundreds of thousands of dollars in installation and maintenance costs.
South Washington County Schools System spans nearly 150 square miles and has seen exponential growth in wireless devices over the past few years, with just 2,000 users in 2010. By the 2014-2015 school year, that number skyrocketed to 30,000.
With 3,000 faculty and staff and 17,600 students, the district owns more than 4,000 Apple iPads provisioned for student use and allows students to bring their own devices to school. Jeff Dietsche, the district’s lone systems and infrastructure manager, is responsible for protecting the network and all the devices from every type of security breach, from malware and phishing to botnets, viruses, and spam.
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After Dietsche researched options for mobile security, the district received proposals from companies specializing in wireless security hardware appliances. The leading vendor under consideration proposed a proprietary solution that cost millions of dollars, plus ongoing maintenance costs. “Putting physical security appliances in front of each switch, especially considering that our network spans 31 locations, was far too cost- and resource-prohibitive,” Dietsche said.
Instead, his research led him to an HP SDN solution that met all the district’s security needs but with minimal implementation and maintenance requirements. Upfront costs totaled less than $200,000, compared to roughly $2 million for hardware-driven security.
The SDN for education solution includes HP Network Protector, an SDN app that uses the HP Virtual Application Networks (VAN) SDN Controller to program the SDN-enabled network infrastructure with security intelligence from the TippingPoint RepDV Labs database. The district was able to deploy the solution to nearly 400 HP SDN-enabled switches in less than one hour and at a fraction of the cost of hardware-based network security appliances.
Security threats now are easily caught on a port-by-port basis, rather than relying on firewalls at the perimeter of the network. According to Dietsche, the district is catching more than 100,000 malicious DNS requests out of 22 million total DNS requests every school day.
Dietsche sees SDN as the future of networking. “Mobile adoption is fast and furious. Other IT professionals I’ve spoken with are so overwhelmed that many are restricting mobile growth simply to keep a handle on security,” he said. “As the sole person responsible for managing the sprawling district network infrastructure, I can attest that HP and SDN are the way forward in the rapidly changing and growing mobile environment.”
Deltion College — home to 15,000 students and 1,300 staff members – faced continued performance demands as some applications drained bandwidth. Latency and technical problems plagued the campus, creating problems throughout.
It was then that the college looked for a real solution. After an extensive research, the college teamed with HP to design and deploy a solution European SDN based on HP’s VAN controller and Kemp Technologies’ adaptive load balancing technology for SDN.
Deltion College recognized SDN as an opportunity to do more than simply upgrade legacy hardware to address performance challenges. The technology also could help the college become more responsive to its users and achieve important strategic priorities.
“Innovation is ingrained in our mindset, so we made a decision that is consistent with the mission and vision of our department,” said Ramon de Boer, head of IT operations at the college. “SDN was still very new, even theoretical, at the time we began planning our upgrade. But we knew if we didn’t move to SDN, our next chance would be four or five years away. And SDN is the future.”
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Load balancing plays an important role in the efficiency and performance of Deltion’s SDN, as well as in supporting dynamic application delivery and quality of service (QoS). The college already used load balancers from Kemp Technologies, so when it found Kemp was part of HP’s SDN ecosystem and SDN app store, the choice was natural.
Since the implementation, technical issues with Lync alone have been reduced by 30 percent to 40 percent, and latency issues with Lync video calls and desktop sharing have been entirely eliminated. Administratively, one of the biggest benefits of the new SDN architecture is the ability to configure network bandwidth and servers dynamically so administrators can automate backups and application upgrades, as well as provide stronger protection from hacking and denial-of-service attacks.
Perhaps more importantly, SDN is helping Deltion College fulfill its core goal of serving more students through flexible educational opportunities. Since the upgrade, Deltion College has begun using more and more video in its classroom instruction – both through live streaming and for download. “Now students can participate in classes remotely, in real time,” de Boer said. “Our new HP SDN network equips us to continue to expand this capability.”Watch a video on the case study.
When Istanbul Kultur University (IKU) needed to replace an aging network infrastructure to accommodate high-performance wireless solutions, it turned to HP to help reinvent its network.
IKU is one of the top foundation universities in Turkey with 11,000 students, 800 staff, and three vocational schools distributed among three campuses. In higher education, students have come to assume the latest technologies such as ubiquitous wireless access, and their expectations continue to rise. Yet IKU’s incumbent network did not even provide campus-wide wireless coverage, let alone sufficient performance to implement new services such as voice over IP. Moreover, staff members were administering the network manually using time-consuming, labor-intensive command-line controls.
“Technology is a vital differentiator in higher education, so we need to stay a step ahead,” said Ender Ekici, head of IT for IKU. “Robust wireless networking and services such as unified communications have become competitive prerequisites for any higher education institution.”
SDN was not initially on IKT’s radar when it started the project to upgrade its wireless network infrastructure, but IKT quickly realized SDN would provide the simpler, more agile infrastructure it was looking for. The network has a large number of VMware virtual machines (VMs) as well as resource-intensive applications including Microsoft Lync, SAP, Microsoft Exchange, and Sakai for learning management. Network traffic is growing exponentially, and the university has just two IT staff members to manage the network.
IKU needed to create a foundation for new service introduction, and network simplification and streamlined management were key considerations HP Network Optimizer dynamically provisions the end-to-end network path and QoS policy via the HP VAN SDN controller, which reduces the need for manual, device-by-device configuration.
For IKU, the SDN network means more than just connectivity – it also sets the stage for the future and opens the way for innovation at the university.