University of Miami, UHealth standardize on Aruba Wi-Fi

Stefanie Botelho's picture
Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Aruba Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARUN) today announced that the University of Miami, a private research institution and the top-ranked school in Florida, and its health system, UHealth-University of Miami Health System, have selected Aruba for an organization-wide wireless network upgrade covering 200 buildings and 11 million square feet of the University’s three main campuses, as well as UHealth’s three hospitals and two dozen outpatient facilities. With the Aruba infrastructure, the University can address the substantial increase in mobile devices within its varied academic, research, residential and clinical care environments on a single, high-performing network.

With its new Aruba Networks wireless infrastructure, the University of Miami and its UHealth- University of Miami Health System addresses the connectivity needs of more than 15,000 students on its campus as well as those of its fast-growing medical center.

With its large, multi-location campus serving more than 15,000 students, as well as a fast-growing medical center that includes 40 buildings across 72 acres, the organization’s primary network challenge was to satisfy all of the connectivity needs of these differing facilities. Delivering organization-wide access and mobility were key objectives, as was the ability to handle an increasing density of mobile and wireless medical devices and, eventually, support a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. To satisfy the needs of all their users who are increasingly representative of #GenMobile, the new generation of mobile worker defined by their preference for mobility, the organization knew its aging infrastructure needed an upgrade.

The University embarked on a thorough evaluation of solutions from its incumbent vendor, as well as several challengers, including Aruba. According to Stewart Seruya, Assistant Vice President and Chief Network Officer for Information Technology, University of Miami, the evaluation was led by a broad mix of the institution’s decision-makers including the hospital and research teams, all of whom concluded that Aruba was the best solution to meet their needs.

“We completed multiple pilots in high concentration areas with students, as well as dense areas on our Medical campus, and the Aruba access points were clearly the best-performing in these high density situations,” said Seruya. “The Aruba APs handled the different hand-off scenarios we posed – particularly in our medical environment where there are lots of wireless devices being used by the nurses, staff, and physicians – and they passed all of our stress tests. At the end of the evaluation, our decision to go with Aruba was straightforward.”

The organization has deployed Aruba mobility controllers, the Aruba 130 Series APs and the AirWave Network Management system. To date, the institution has installed approximately 2,300 Aruba APs, with another 4,000 planned over the next twelve months. They are also in the process of configuring Aruba’s ClearPass Access Management System; the original intent was to use ClearPass to provide guest access, but according to Seruya, the University has been impressed with ClearPass’s advanced features and functionality and plans to use it to enable BYOD, moving forward.

The University of Miami/UHealth has begun a rigorous, phased deployment schedule that will eventually result in the Aruba infrastructure covering its entire campus and medical facilities. Currently, the main University buildings, hospitals, and specialty practices are all outfitted with the new gear and over the summer of 2014, the key residential colleges will be upgraded. The University expects 50 percent of the upgrade to be completed by the end of the summer, with the remaining areas covered in phases over the next two years. In addition, the organization has just announced plans to open a new, 200,000-square-foot outpatient facility that will be upgraded with Aruba infrastructure. The institution will also provide wireless network coverage for major new buildings on campus including a School of Music, a Marine School, and a unique research and science facility that incorporates three stories of water to study weather patterns and storm impact.

“Mobility is crucial for all of our institution’s academic and medical staff, students, and patients, and strategic to the success of the University and UHealth,” said Brad Rohrer, Associate Vice President and Deputy CIO for Information Technology, University of Miami. “We suspect that more than 25,000 devices are connecting to our network daily and we’ve seen peaks as high as 18,000 devices simultaneously on the network. The expectation is to keep all of these users connected reliably and without disruption, anytime and anywhere across the entire organization. The infrastructure is absolutely critical in making this happen.”

Rohrer noted that in both the academic and medical environments, the institution is relying more heavily upon the wireless network. “We want to get to the point where it doesn’t matter what type of device people are using, as long as they can do their job. The network will support whatever devices are being used and will enable easy, secure access for everyone.”

Future plans for the academic environment revolve primarily around BYOD, where the University wants to allow students, faculty, and staff to self-configure their personal devices to the network without IT involvement, while maintaining security and HIPAA requirements. For the medical environment, one of UHealth’s key goals is to implement Electronic Medical Records (EMR); the wireless infrastructure is central to enabling EMR, as it will allow the various wireless medical devices to communicate.

The organization is also looking to roll out 802.11ac in the near future, which will help it keep pace with the number and types of devices being used in both the academic and medical facilities. Rohrer says he expects that about 40 percent of the 4,000 additional APs that they will deploy in the next year will be 802.11ac APs. Additional plans for the future include Microsoft Lync for Unified Communications, as the institution believes that its new wireless infrastructure will enable it to move away from expensive investments in telecommunications and voice products.

Said Rohrer, “We’ve had all of these differing needs that we had to consider as we designed our network, and with Aruba, we’ve been able to bring them all together into a single network that serves all of our users. As we move forward, I’m certain that we’ll continue to see more users, more devices and applications and, therefore, more challenges. We feel confident that our new Aruba infrastructure will help us face these challenges head on.”

About Aruba Networks, Inc.

Aruba Networks is a leading provider of next-generation network access solutions for the mobile enterprise. The company designs and delivers Mobility-Defined Networks that empower IT departments and #GenMobile, a new generation of tech-savvy users who rely on their mobile devices for every aspect of work and personal communication. To create a mobility experience that #GenMobile and IT can rely upon, Aruba Mobility-Defined Networks automate infrastructure-wide performance optimization and trigger security actions that used to require manual IT intervention. The results are dramatically improved productivity and lower operational costs.

Listed on the NASDAQ and Russell 2000 Index, Aruba is based in Sunnyvale, California, and has operations throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific regions. To learn more, visit Aruba at http://www.arubanetworks.com. For real-time news updates follow Aruba on Twitter and Facebook, and for the latest technical discussions on mobility and Aruba products visit Airheads Social at http://community.arubanetworks.com.