Wireless expansion keeps traffic flowing

Like many districts throughout the country, East Brunswick School District (EBSD) sought to enhance its student’s learning experience by increasing access to computers. However, with the district's wireless network ill-equipped to handle the increased traffic, it was time to find a better way.

Tinos Rousos, senior network manager at the central New Jersey district, evaluated most of the major wireless LAN equipment makers, seeking one that was cost-effective and provided a wireless LAN that could be centrally managed.

"Many vendors required hardware controllers that were not appropriate for our needs and would bring additional costs," says Rousos. "We wanted an architecture that could go throughout the school district without those additional costs per school."

ESBD opted for Aerohive Networks Inc.'s Cooperative Control architecture. Cooperative Control combines an enterprise-class access point, called a HiveAP, with a suite of cooperative control protocols and functions that bring all of the benefits of controller-based architectures but without the cost and complexity of traditional controllers or overlay networks.

The first school to receive the new Aerohive-based wireless LAN was Hammarskjold Middle School. "The rollout went very smoothly," explains Rousos. "We conducted a number of tests on configurations and authentication services, and once that was in place, HiveManager made it very easy to apply our networking policies to the HiveAPs," he says.

For classrooms where both wireless and Ethernet were required, the district installed HiveAPs equipped with dual-port functionality so that the same cable drop could be used for both wireless and wired connections.

Because HiveAPs sense each others' presence, they are able to use cooperative control protocols to provide mobility, cooperative RF management, resiliency, and best path forwarding. "With the Aerohive architecture, we know that if an AP goes down, for whatever reason, we don’t lose wireless capability. The network will still run strong, and we'll still have access to all of our resources," Rousos says.

Since the recent Aerohive WLAN installation at Hammarskjold Middle School, the district has expanded the network to include an administrative building. "I've found managing, as well as expanding, the Aerohive network to be very easy. Adding an additional five APs to the administrative building took only a couple of hours to physically place the APs and apply the same policies we designed to extend the network to an additional location," he says.

The network is managed through Aerohive's HiveManager Network Management System, which enables simple policy creation, firmware upgrades, configuration updates, and centralized monitoring throughout an Aerohive deployment from within a single console.