A branch of Webber International University
Modernizing a University Infrastructure
The mission of St. Andrews University, a branch of Webber International University, is to offer an array of business, liberal arts and sciences, and preprofessional majors that create a life-transforming educational opportunity for students. With a total student body of about 900, St. Andrews University main campus in Laurinburg, NC has over 600 students, the majority of whom live on campus. Students attend classes with a low student to instructor ratio and engage with other students, faculty, staff, and coaches as one close-knit community. The campus has the goal that each student has a unique college experience that contributes to holistically developing each individual. With the onset of the pandemic came new challenges. One of those challenges was the need for improved technology.
In 2020, during the pandemic, students were in-seat part of the time and remote the rest, with community, sports, equestrian, and social activities being adapted to keep everyone safe. As a result, there was a proliferation of internet connected devices in the dorms straining the University’s network infrastructure. St. Andrews had an aging network system that was a mix of Cisco, Aruba, Ubiquiti, and HP devices, many of which were well past their service life and no longer being patched.
Maintenance and inventory were being maintained manually. Almost everything required the IT manager to travel around campus for troubleshooting, taking a lot of time and guesswork when frequent problems arose.
Since the original implementation of Wireless infrastructure a decade ago, an average student has an explosion in IoT devices – averaging 5-10 per student – including computers, tablets, printers, game and entertainment systems, smart phones, watches, and voice assistants. Students frequently reported that wireless coverage was spotty and connectivity slow and unable to support student’s academic needs, much less streaming and other lifestyle demands.
This resulted in many students bringing wireless routers and other devices from home to try and boost coverage in the dorms, causing strain and potential cybersecurity issues on the campus network.
After exploratory conversations, Quaversal provided a single Wireless Access Point for an extended pilot. The IT shop used it for an extended period, and saw an immediate increase in performance, bandwidth, and network speed. Satisfied with those results, it was time for a real test.
They placed the single WAP in the arena to support student registration. One device covered a full arena, and beat every expectation of the university staff. Plus, none of the students took the WAP back to their dorm.
Convinced that it was time for the upgrade, an endowment enabled the school to take on the project.
100% of the 45+ in-use switches on campus were replaced with a full-scale Meraki setup of 43 switches. The Meraki setup allowed for consolidation in some areas and expansion of access in others at an overall reduction in total footprint. The Wireless Access Points in the all of the three stories dormitories and one of the one-story dormitories have been replaced (25% of the campus WAP devices) with the remaining devices targeted for replacement.
The entire cutover was completed in one weekend, with no outages other than site-by-site at the time of the swap.
The was an immediate lift in performance and stability. Meraki enabled centralized management of all the devices on the network, allowing for remote maintenance and troubleshooting plus identification of prohibited devices such as personal Wifi routers improving wireless security, stability, and coverage. Working with St. Andrews’ IT staff, Quaversal provided guidance on improvements to the campus’ BYOD policy, and how the new Meraki environment enabled enforcement.
The IT Manager isn’t spending as much time travelling from dorm to dorm, now able to handle most tasks from his office. He was even able to quickly train his student intern how to use the Meraki dashboard and manage common tasks in a few minutes. After a few days of having to teach students how to get onto the new wireless network, in the dormitories in which the WAP’s have been replaced, students are calling support not to report problems, but to thank them for the change.
Though there are devices pending replacement, the infrastructure replacement to date has put St. Andrews University and services provided for its student body in position to meet the current demands of technology, and prepare them for the future.
Faculty are better able to provide online classes, students are enabled to do homework and meet the personal and education technological demands of student life, and the Administration views this as meeting the expectations of students when they evaluate a campus for their experience.
The IT shop couldn’t be happier from the time savings, and centralized, automated management. “We see and know everything they are doing, immediately.”
Why did they choose Cisco & Quaversal?
Cisco offered a great technological solution, and the Meraki portal offered an intuitive and easy to use solution, but our decision was really made because of Paul, Founder and CEO of Quaversal.
“From the initial call to the end of the wireless project, it’s been fantastic. Very hospitable, very knowledgeable, very responsive. I can call in the middle of the day, we hop into a [Cisco Webex] session…. The level of aftercare was nice. He checked in with us, kept tabs on us, and would even log in and keep an eye on things. You don’t see that a lot nowadays with solutions providers. That really makes Quaversal stand out.” – Chris
“He didn’t sell us products. It was solutions to our problems. It was full service – his definition of what [Quaversal] provides is so much broader than other companies… he makes people want to be repeat customers, and recommend him to other people. The consumer today wants an experience… obviously here it’s an experience for students and faculty, and he obviously gets it. He’s got something special, and we appreciate the fact that he does.” – Dr. Ellen Bernhardt
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