University CIO Modernizes Networking Infrastructure

The College of Texas Arlington sought an AI-enabled Wi-Fi system to enhance scholar knowledge. The challenge came in the middle of a whole IT overhaul.

Murrstock via Adobe Stock

Murrstock by way of Adobe Inventory

How significant is a trusted wireless network to managing an instructional establishment? In a standard 12 months it really is quite significant. In 2020, it was crucial.

Immediately after all, a university can have the finest instructors and the greatest-high-quality curriculum, but unless college students can obtain all of that, it may as nicely not exist. Last 12 months, when so many universities went digital, networking was typically the only way to obtain lessons, assignments, and help from instructors.

The College of Texas Arlington started off a challenge to update its growing old network five many years in the past, on the lookout to do a hardware refresh that would contact the wired and wireless networks and the 20-plus 12 months aged telephone program, too. The challenge was element of a much larger overhaul of many of the institution’s current programs, such as on-premises electronic mail and other on-premises-based mostly applications this sort of as finance and HR.

College CIO Jeff Neyland oversaw the start and ongoing system of this big multi-challenge energy that amounted to what may be deemed a comprehensive overhaul of the university’s IT programs, such as the addition of ServiceNow and other platforms.

“The wireless infrastructure was very lousy,” Neyland instructed InformationWeek. “We are a condition university, a land grant university, so considerably of the network was place in as cash were being accessible.”

But updating these various programs, reorganizing components of IT, and modernizing the university to a a lot more cloud-based mostly infrastructure intended creating a vision of in which the university’s IT required to go and coordinating many moving components and budgets to make that vision a truth.

Neyland introduced appropriate knowledge from various past CIO positions, plus a decade as a principal in a consulting organization supporting private fairness firms when he joined the university about five many years in the past.  

“We took a comprehensive see of the campus, and we moved from an growing old technologies to a brand name-new set of technologies with AI becoming a key rationale for choosing Juniper as our company,” Neyland said. “I really don’t glance at it from the system stage of see. I glance at the client need to have and then push down into the technologies set.”

What Neyland is referring to when he talks about choosing Juniper Networks for its AI capabilities is in a huge element the firm’s acquisition of the business Mist in 2019. Juniper said then that the offer would “deliver AI to IT, providing on the promise of application-defined organization.” Mist’s AI-pushed wireless system was designed to make Wi-Fi a lot more predictable, trusted and measurable, according to the business.

Neyland said that AI is the upcoming move in evaluation-based mostly techniques that lets IT study events and logs, set up alerts, and automate decisions.

“Juniper is farther alongside on that route than any of our other strategic partners,” he said. Neyland sees the possible for AI to be applied in many techniques at the university, which is currently employing chatbots and has also built intelligence all-around scholar good results.

In the midst of its much larger IT overhaul, the university began the RFP system for a new wireless company in 2019, with Juniper Mist picked in Drop 2019 and deployment planned for the slower months of Summer time 2020, to be completed for the Drop semester of 2020. The challenge incorporated migration of a lot more than 70 properties. The IT firm experienced just started off the pilot in March 2020 when the pandemic hit.

Jason Hardy, VP of infrastructure and functions at the university, said that the pandemic did have an impression on the rollout.

“We experienced some decisions to make,” he said. “Really should we place the challenge on hold or modify up or tactic? But the depopulated campus intended that it created it safer for our installers. We accelerated our timeline and obtained the whole campus completed eight weeks in advance of program.”

As the campus repopulated, college students and workers loved a new Wi-Fi knowledge with double the variety of obtain factors than the campus previously experienced accessible such as in scholar parking garages, enabling college students to park and get obtain to the network and university whilst so considerably of the country was even now socially distancing in response to the pandemic.

Hardy said the deployment of Juniper and Mist programs has also intended streamlined programs, proactive alerts, and help for some of the most challenging networking troubles.

“The program only escalates factors to us when it really is a authentic challenge,” he said. “For me it really is about reducing the amount of money of work that helps make it to my workers.” Hardy said the toughest challenge is with misconfiguration of switches, but which is anything that the stack of Mist applications can help with, too. The Mist digital assistant, Marvis, must also be ready to remediate these troubles in the future by switching the configuration of the swap, he said.

As with most technologies assignments, cultural modify is a big element of the system, too. In the scenario of the university’s whole IT overhaul, Hardy’s department was reorganized. The department experienced previously been siloed with a network director, programs director, id group, protection group, all in their individual different groups. Now these businesses have been merged into a solitary group under Hardy’s route. The modify has enabled the group to cross practice to enhance their skills and to transfer from 1 department to yet another.

As a result, some program administrator employment have been eliminated, but Hardy said that career paths have been rearchitected with an eye to a lot more contemporary career paths in the cloud.

Shelling out For It

How did Neyland and his group pay for all these alterations?

“This was not a low cost implementation by any indicates,” Neyland admitted. “We have a truly great relationship with our govt group, and they notice for college students to have a great knowledge, we experienced to make investments.”

Some of the cash for the hardware investments came from the price savings of a consolidated IT portfolio and fewer vendors, such as moving some applications to the cloud. The university also asked for cash from the condition and contributed further cash from their reserves.

But the investments have compensated off in the variety of bigger network stability, better simply call centre management, a new set of applications, and very rare downtime, according to Neyland.

All those capabilities are even a lot more substantial when you contemplate that nowadays a lot more than twenty five% of the network bandwidth at the university is eaten by video clip sharing.

“It really is substantial,” Hardy said. The real exam will arrive in the Drop 2021 when 75% of the university’s 42,000 college students are envisioned to return to campus (and twenty five% of understanding will be remote).

“We are creating positive our college students have a wonderful knowledge,” Neyland said.

Linked Information:

Asante CIO Discusses Reworking with Cloud and Telehealth
MassMutual CISO Talks Cybersecurity Priorities
Forecast of the Long run of Do the job from MIT Sloan CIO Symposium
Why and How the Chief Information Officer Role is Modifying


Jessica Davis is a Senior Editor at InformationWeek. She covers organization IT management, careers, artificial intelligence, info and analytics, and organization application. She has expended a career covering the intersection of small business and technologies. Stick to her on twitter: … See Full Bio

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