Education enabler

British Council Saudi Arabia deploys business-class Wi-Fi & Bonjour Gateway to improve BYOD access

Tags: Aerohive Networks (www.aerohive.com/)British Council (www.britishcouncil.org/)Saudi Arabia
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Education enabler The network now provides pupils with uninterrupted Wi-Fi access, allowing them to bring in their own smart devices to use in class and to access e-learning resources, according to the British Council.
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By  Georgina Enzer Published  July 21, 2013

British Council is an international organisation for educational and cultural relations and manages a wide range of activities covering the arts, science, technology and education. Through its work, the British Council aims to build long-term relationships with governments, organisations and people to promote a wider knowledge of the UK and the English language.

Enabling BYOD and best of breed e-Learning

As an educational and cultural organisation renowned for its creative ideas and achievements, technology within the classroom environment plays a critical role in the British Council’s on-going development plans.

At its learning centre in Saudi Arabia, students were increasingly bringing their own smart devices, such as iPads, onto the campus to learn. The IT department realised it needed a WiFi solution that could meet the high demand for internet access from students and staff using these mobile internet devices, a way to manage increasingly complex security and access policies, the provision of e-learning facilities such as mobile apps and e-books, and the ability to cope with the accompanying surge in traffic on the WLAN network.

“As more employees and students bring their consumer devices onto the campus, BYOD is becoming a critical movement that IT administrators must support; and as iPads have become a more prevalent learning tool in our classrooms, controlling and giving the devices uninterrupted access to the internet is key to succeeding in our vision,” said Adil Mohammed, IT manager, British Council, Saudi Arabia.

 The teaching centre assessed a number of WLAN solutions, opting for Aerohive because of its controller-less architecture and cloud-based centralised management.

“We required a flexible WLAN solution that was scalable enough to accommodate all of our educational needs and we soon recognised the potential benefits of a centrally managed network. Aerohive’s linear pricing model was also a factor in our decision to choose Aerohive – having the flexibility to add APs as and when we need them wasn’t an option with controller based solutions from other market leaders like Cisco,” said Mohammed.

Secure wireless

Through consultancy with IT partner System Rapid, Aerohive AP120 Access Points were installed in all of the learning centre’s classrooms, offering reliable, secure internet access to all students and teachers regardless of what device they are using.

“As one of our key clients in the region, it was important to carefully match the technology and solution which best suited their needs. With controller-less architecture, innovative features, simple installation and management, Aerohive Networks AP’s were the obvious choice,” said Sajid Saleh Hafesjee, senior technical consultant, at value-added reseller, System Rapid.

Once the dedicated fibre optic connection for the project was installed and configured, the actual Aerohive AP installation and configuration took just a couple of days. Customising the secure portal took a further three days, as the IT partner had to finalise terms, conditions and backgrounds to display. Installation took place during evenings and weekends to ensure little or no disruption.

Enabling Apple

Using Aerohive’s Bonjour Gateway technology the education centre has been able to overcome the challenges inherent in Apple’s “zero configuration networking”, when taken out of its native home environment, and enabled these sharing services. The Bonjour Gateway is designed to allow service advertisements to bridge multiple subnets that make up the network topology of many education establishments like the British Council in Saudi Arabia, and makes sure services are enabled based on identity, location, and time.

As an out-of-band technology, the Bonjour Gateway only participates in the network service advertisement and not the service (AirPlay, AirPrint) itself, allowing the learning centre’s existing security policy to be maintained, and ensuring the gateway does not become a bottleneck.

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