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Staying Connected at Northern Kentucky University

July 3, 2014
at 9:07 am PST

Northern Kentucky University is among the fastest growing universities in Kentucky. It hosts over 15,000 students with about 13,000 undergraduate and 2,000 graduate students. The goal of the wireless program at NKU is to provide secure, robust and ubiquitous wireless access throughout the campus, both indoors and outdoors. This ensures that students always stay connected and feel at home. The classrooms are equipped with smart technology to ensure that the teachers can benefit from technology when collaborating with students. The IT team has blanketed the libraries, the classrooms, the dorm-rooms as well as the outdoor areas with Wi-Fi. In the previous blog in 2012, we described how the Cisco 7.5 release allows networks to recover with no client re-authentication in the rare event of your primarily wireless LAN controller goes down.

nku1

At a Glance:

Located in: the Highland Heights Kentucky

Number of students: 15,000 of which about 2000 stay in residence halls

Number of teachers/staff: 2000

# WLAN clients: Approximately 8500 concurrent clients

Access-Point Model and Units:  1200 units of AP models including AP702W, 3502, 3602, 3702, 1550 and a few older Access Points which are being phased out

Controller Model and Units: 2 Pairs of WiSM2 operating in 7.6.120.0

Switch Models: Various models 2960, 3650, 3850, 3750X and 6500

Prime Infrastructure: 1.4.2

Mobility Services Engine: 7.6

 Deployment Details: We talked to Christopher Johnson, the Senior Infrastructure Systems Analyst II at Northern Kentucky University to capture some of his thoughts around their choice of this solution and the associated benefits.

A total of 4 SSIDs are deployed in the NKU WLAN environment.

  • The first is NKU_SECURE, which runs webauth with security via Cisco Identity Services Engine(ISE). It is dedicated for students, teachers and faculty, anyone with NKU account.
  • The second NKU_PUBLIC is an open network focused on serving guest users
  • The third NKU_ENCRYPTED is running 802.1x for faculty and staff with security via ISE and
  • The fourth NKU_VILLAGE for residents of the village

Some of the most interesting aspects of the WLAN Deployment:

  1. Chris observed that the students were very pleased with the IT provisioned WLAN over the one provided by a third party provider. To improve this further, NKU has rolled out over 500 units of the compact Wall-Mount Access Point 702W model in the student village. Each unit is shared between two beds. They are eagerly awaiting the upcoming 8.0 release for the ability to apply a VLAN to the Ethernet ports so students can connect a printer or a gaming system in to that Access Point.
  2. The Primary and Standby WiSM2 blades are deployed in different Catalyst 6K chassis to have complete redundancy using Client Stateful Switch-Over. This ensures that even if one building is down, the network is fully available.nku2
  3. NKU is rolling 802.11ac out with Access Point Models 3700 in the high client density areas -- Griffin Hall and the Student Center in this refresh cycle.
  4. NKU uses Cisco Application Visibility and Control (AVC) to understand what type of applications flow through their network. They are currently evaluating the upcoming 8.0 release with Bonjour Policy Tie-in and AVC Policy Tie-in.

If any of you would like to learn more about 802.11ac, High Availability, the Wall-Plate Access Point or AVC please reach out to your local Cisco representative.

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1 Comments.


  1. This information is actually really helpful and seems precise!! I am a Computer Science major at NKU and acting tech support for my hall. I was glad to see information about the Wall Mount Access points that were installed over the Summer of 2014. At the time of writing they have not yet been activated, however should come online within the next 2 weeks. I look forward to reading more about the features they plan to use in the future.

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