Managing Device Connectivity on Campus

Higher education institutions have been dealing with BYOT for some 15 years, making them pioneers of this massive technology transformation.

Higher education institutions have been dealing with BYOT for some 15 years, making them pioneers of this massive technology transformation.

At the beginning of every new semester, university and college IT departments experience a tremendous spike in device on-boarding activity. You have thousands of students who all want to get their various devices – smart phones, laptops, and tablets – on the campus network at the same time.

How universities and colleges manage and control device connectivity has never been more important. It wasn’t too long ago that having a mobile device in the classroom implied that a student was not paying attention. And while that may still be the case for high schools, a whole new set of rules apply to the modern university student. Today, if a student doesn’t have a device during a lecture, whether it be a laptop, smart phone or tablet, it is a major disadvantage to learning.

Empowering students can be both an opportunity and a risk

The average university/college student owns seven tech devices, with smartphones, tablets and gaming consoles leading in popularity.[i] And in 2015, there were 18.6 million students enrolled in college in the US.[ii]  So let’s do the math – we’re talking about over 130 million devices that need to potentially connect to university networks in the US alone, and this doesn’t even include teaching and administrative staff who also use their own devices at work.

Every single one of these devices needs to be able get on and off the campus network. On top of that, IT needs to be able to track the relationship between each user, their devices, each assigned IP address, their location and their activity and behavior in order to ensure the network is secure.

Let’s say the security team finds out that someone is trying to hack into the chemistry lab server, but all they have is an IP address, so they go back to IT and ask who has that IP address.  If they couldn’t map it back to the actual student, they wouldn’t know who to go after. The only solution is to register all of the devices so you know the who, what, when and where of all activity on the network.

Can you imagine having to register all of those devices manually? Think about how much time and resources you could save by eliminating IT’s involvement in device on-boarding. And more importantly, consider the potential for human error in the daunting process of managing IP addresses, devices, users, etc. with manual processes, scripts and basic tools.

Making the Most of BYOT with Automation and Self-Service

The most efficient and reliable way to enable network teams to on-board and off-board devices of any kind is a self-service device registration portal that leverages IP Address Management, DNS and DHCP. Self-service device registration makes on-boarding a device as simple and intuitive as connecting to any guest Wi-Fi network. Integration with IPAM, DNS and DHCP allows IT to view, audit and track all devices and network connections. By eliminating “old school” manual processes and transforming device registration into a self-service, you will:

  • Improve the user experience
  • Reduce IT overhead with automated device on-boarding and off-boarding
  • Tie network access to mobile security status
  • Accelerate security response
  • Reduce the costs of security compliance and auditing
  • Ease BYOT administration with efficient workflow

So what can businesses learn from colleges? With the average number of connected devices per person expected to hit five by 2017,[iii] organizations of every shape and size across all industry verticals are facing the same BYOT challenges: how to get devices on and off the network without overwhelming IT staff and how to ensure secure access to the network. A self-service device registration portal, together with IPAM, DNS and DHCP, solves both of these challenges, and enables organizations to manage growth and embrace change in this “always-on” era.

[i] http://www.marketingcharts.com/online/college-students-own-an-average-of-7-tech-devices-30430/

[ii] http://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-is-college-enrollment-declining/

[iii] “Cisco Visual Networking Index: Global IP Traffic Forecast Update 2012-2017,” Cisco, 2011,
http://www.businessinsider.com/cisco-predicts-mobile-2013-5#five-internet-devices-apiece-10

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