MTI Deploys Aruba Wi-Fi 6 to Help Prepare Students for the Global Workforce
Monday, February 10, 2020
Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company (NYSE: HPE), recently announced that Mitchell Technical Institute (MTI) of South Dakota, a leading technology institute preparing students for the global workforce, has chosen an Aruba network infrastructure to enable modern, collaboration-based experiences and build upon its innovative culture for students and faculty.
Recognized by Forbes for its contributions toward making Mitchell, South Dakota an elite “Smart City,” MTI has served as a regional leader in training the global workforce for over 50 years. MTI is helping to transform its area’s traditional, agricultural economy into a center for information communications technology. To that end, the institution knew that it needed to transform its own network infrastructure to meet the growing expectations of students and faculty and to continue its reputation as an education innovator.
A key driver for MTI’s network transformation was the need for high-performing, reliable Wi-Fi to enable classroom applications and software-based learning programs that eliminate pen and paper and afford student mobility. In addition, the institution sought a solution that could be easily integrated with its Microsoft Teams and Intune systems, and could segment and secure devices on the wireless and wired network – be they student-owned mobile devices, the school’s security cameras and HVAC systems, or other IoT devices that MTI might want to deploy.
MTI’s IT team evaluated solutions from incumbent vendor, Cisco, as well as Mist Systems before determining that Aruba could best meet all of the school’s current needs and prepare them for future expansion.
To create a network that is in line with its focus on innovation, MTI deployed a combination of Aruba Wi-Fi 6 Access Points, Mobility Controllers, Aruba access switches, AirWave network management, and ClearPass. According to MTI’s Director of Technology, David Boos, the added features of Aruba’s Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6™ APs, and Aruba’s Dynamic Segmentation – which allows MTI to keep user and device traffic on their wired and wireless networks separate and secure, regardless of application or service – were key factors in the decision to select Aruba.
“We were most impressed with the fact that Aruba’s Wi-Fi 6 APs go beyond the 802.11ax standard to deliver powerful capabilities like AI-powered optimization and energy savings with Green AP mode, smart traffic control and integrated Bluetooth and Zigbee for IoT-readiness,” Boos noted. “Futhermore, Aruba Dynamic Segmentation lets us assign roles on-the-fly to wired ports, maximizing our switching resources while significantly reducing manual configuration and administrative overhead.”
Boos also noted that the seamless integration between Aruba’s ClearPass for policy and role-based access control, and MTI’s Microsoft applications such as Intune, for mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM), was a critical decision factor for the institution.
“Combining ClearPass with Microsoft Intune simplified everything for our team, dramatically increasing reliability and gaining better insights on our wireless network,” he said, adding that MTI plans to transition their wired network to ClearPass in the near future.
The Aruba infrastructure is helping MTI enable crucial applications that meet the institution’s goals of innovation, collaboration and global workforce preparation. For example, MTI instructors utilize Microsoft Teams for sharing their screens with students’ devices during courses that teach the design, building and repair of engineering automation controls known as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA). Since a key part of these programs is learning to manage the SCADA electrical, water, environmental and security controls remotely, a reliable, high-performing network is crucial.
“The Aruba Wi-Fi has delivered this increased performance and quality so instructors and students can collaborate and work together without any of the lag time we experienced previously,” Boos explained.
This high level of performance and reliability now allows MTI’s students to use their mobile devices to log into the school’s learning management systems to complete coursework and tests, as well as the school’s ERP system, Jenzabar, to manage financial aid and other academic and business processes. The network and in particular, Aruba Dynamic Segmentation, has also proven beneficial for campus events like MTI’s VEX robotics tournament, providing the secure access required by the tournament managers and participants. In addition, with MTI at the forefront of the nationwide transition to constructing more energy-efficient, amenity-rich modular buildings, the network is helping students collaborate and communicate easily, and utilize sophisticated CAD to design and prototype their structures.
Boos foresees continued demand for higher performance connectivity, but also a proliferation of IoT devices in areas like HVAC, smart thermostats and more. Regardless of the device or application, Boos says MTI feels confident they’re prepared with their new Aruba infrastructure in place.