Ruckus Wireless has begun to replace the legacy Wi-Fi network at Saint Joseph’s University (SJU) in Philadelphia, PA, USA with its Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi equipment.
Saint Joseph’s, an 8,800-student Jesuit university, has already deployed more than 100 of the latest Ruckus Smart wireless LAN (WLAN) access points (APs), including the Ruckus ZoneFlex 7982 indoor 802.11n 3x3:3 stream APs, and has plans to install 150 more in the coming months.
The current network is installed in two five-story student housing buildings as well as two academic buildings, and the 10,000-square-foot Campion Student Center, which includes two cafeterias, a movie theatre, computer stations, and student meeting room and lounge.
In the next year, the network will expand to provide coverage to nearly 20 academic and student housing buildings, administrative offices, and various indoor and outdoor areas of the university with Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi.
The university’s IT Infrastructure team, led by Jim Brady, assistant director of Network Services, made the decision to upgrade to the Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi infrastructure in order to deliver high-capacity, high-speed Wi-Fi service to support a growing number of mobile device users.
‘When BYOD became a bigger concern for us, we realized our legacy network wasn’t handling demand as well as needed,’ said Brady. ‘We believed it was in the university’s best interest for us to undergo due diligence, and we evaluated our options for replacing our legacy system. We looked at several other vendors, but Ruckus was the one that really shined – and the system came at a lower price-point. So, choosing Ruckus became a no-brainer for us.’
Ruckus Smart Wi-Fi passes the Saint Joseph’s test
According to Brady, a growing number of students and staff are using multiple mobile devices, laptops, and tablets at any given time. The Ruckus network currently supports roughly 600 concurrent clients during peak usage times with 30-60 MBps uplink and downlink speeds.
‘Because of the Ruckus APs’ ability to handle many clients and the channel utilization techniques they offer, we’ve been able to undergo a BYOD initiative very seamlessly, and support the rapidly increasing demand from students and teachers to have solid connectivity,’ said Brady.
The two student housing towers combined house nearly 500 students in roughly 120 apartment-style suites. Each building is supported by roughly 30 Ruckus ZoneFlex 7982 APs. The three-story Campion Student Center is covered by 16 Ruckus APs, and is also used to provide guest access in the conference center.
The network has three separate SSIDs, with one main virtual LAN (VLAN) for students and faculty, one for set-up and on-boarding of new devices through XpressConnect, and one network for guest connectivity.
Saint Joseph’s plans to implement new Ruckus Secure Hotspot with innovative Dynamic Pre-Shared Key (PSK) technology to provide authenticated, secure user access on the University’s guest network.
Dynamic PSK is an alternative to the elaborate 802.1x security protocol, which requires manual installation of encryption keys and user credentials to provide secure access.
Secure Hotspot technology simplifies the process by dynamically generating strong, unique security keys for each authenticated user, automatically installing these encryption keys on client devices.
All of the Ruckus APs are hard-wired and connect via copper to Layer 2 switches in the university’s wiring closets; they then connect through fiber back to the network core, housed in Barbelin Hall, located in the middle of campus.
Brady oversees the network with a Ruckus ZoneDirector 3050, also located in Barbelin Hall, and a second ZoneDirector is installed for redundancy. A third ZoneDirector is being installed to manage the additional Ruckus APs being placed throughout the rest of the campus.
The entire Ruckus installation was handled by Brady’s team of three people. ‘It was a simple, straightforward process. We had initial guidance from our sales engineer, and we performed the installation ourselves in less than a week,’ he said. ‘With such limited staff the need for a self-managing, self-healing network was critical.’
Brady concluded: ‘The network has been in place since January. So far we’ve had no issues whatsoever. Students don’t know what system they’re connecting to, and invariably whenever they complain about poor performance they’re connecting through one of our older APs, and when they talk about how great connectivity is they’re linked to a Ruckus AP. The Ruckus network gives me peace of mind that it will just work without any intervention from me.’