Education is rapidly changing. Hybrid and distance learning have transformed the industry, and this has been accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Back when I was attending grad school at Wharton, the “digital divide” was just a future concept. That concept is now a reality. For example, if my children don’t have consistent, secure access to the internet in a performant manner, their learning, and overall education is compromised. From the evolving role of the campus and classroom to resource constraints, financing challenges, and mounting security threats—today is a time of unparalleled change that has a real impact on societies around the world.

As such, educators are reinventing education in real-time. The future of education must be based on solutions that are simple to use, work together seamlessly, and are backed by world-class support.

That’s where we come in.

To better understand some of the challenges educational institutions are facing today, I’d like to share a few stories. Stories about organizations partnering with Cisco to deploy intent-based networking (IBN) solutions for their digital transformation to ensure the digital divide does not impact the ability to deliver quality education en masse.

Growing school district automates infrastructure operations

The Douglas County School District is Colorado’s third-largest, serving almost 70,000 students from preschool through 12th grade. The district includes 89 schools spread across an area of 850 square miles.

Faced with a move to a new data center several years ago, the Douglas County IT team had an important decision to make. Should they continue using legacy networking technology or move to Cisco ACI, the industry’s leading software-defined networking (SDN) solution? At the time, few public sector organizations were using SDN.

After reviewing a variety of options, they decided to go with Cisco ACI and Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches.Quote from Dustin Bench, Lead Network Engineer, Douglas County School District

The programmability of Cisco ACI has made other automation efforts significantly easier. The IT team can use Python scripts to push configuration changes, and load balancers are also programmatically configured. The goal for the IT team is a single program that will do all the necessary infrastructure configuration for a new application, including networking, load balancing, and spinning up virtual machines (VMs).

Always-on campus wireless solutions for mobile and tech-savvy students at San Jose State University

In higher education, networking technology is not only essential for teaching, collaboration, and research, but it is key to attracting and keeping the best students. Students who expect a wireless network that “just works.” With 24,000 devices connected concurrently on a given day, San Jose State University needed a trusted partner to provide the exceptional wireless experience its students demand.

SJSU faced a variety of challenges in delivering this exceptional experience:

  • Wireless data consumption was growing 20% annually, demanding more from their network.
  • SJSU wanted to use behavior insights on students, guests, and users to enhance the on-campus experience.
  • Bringing thousands of wireless devices online was manual, requiring three people to touch access points before deployment.
  • Even brief service interruptions impacted student productivity and perception of the service and school.

After partnering with Cisco, SJSU decided to use Cisco DNA Center, Cisco DNA Assurance, Cisco DNA Spaces, and Cisco Catalyst 9800 Series Wireless Controllers. SJSU wanted automation, visibility, and predictability across the network, and they got it. Here are the results:

SJSU is achieving its goal to use the Cisco-powered network as a platform for limitless access for its students.

Aventus protects staff and students with Cisco DNA and location services

Aventus is a secondary vocational and training school in the Netherlands. Like many other institutions, they shut down in March 2020. After getting approved to come back with a reduced 15% capacity in September, Aventus decided to adapt. Their priorities were clear: leverage technology to bring back students and staff safely.

Enforcing and monitoring physical distancing protocols can be difficult. Without the right tech, you might have to hire additional security to patrol the buildings and monitor activity. Luckily, a couple years prior, Aventus deployed Cisco DNA to power their infrastructure.

After deciding they needed a technology-based solution, Aventus approached Cisco. It became clear that Cisco DNA Spaces was the ideal cloud-based location services platform for the school. Cisco DNA Spaces enables them to map out their campuses using the Wi-Fi access points that all the students and staff are connected to. Here were the results:

Aventus anticipates using Cisco DNA Spaces even when they don’t need to abide by physical distancing guidelines. Now when they have their yearly open house events, Aventus can track student interest in different areas of the campus. Additionally, they want to build an app that lets students navigate to the individual buildings on campus. Using an integrator with Cisco DNA Spaces, students will see exactly where they need to go within each building.


To learn more about Cisco in education, check out our Education homepage, recent blogs, or contact sales for more information about the solutions mentioned in this post.

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Justin Barney

Vice President, Global Sales

Intent-Based Networking