The University of Maryland (UMD) recently chose the HPE Aruba Networking ESP (Edge Services Platform) networking solution by Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The new campus-wide deployment includes Wi-Fi 6E wireless access points (APs) and CX wired switches, powered end-to-end by AI insights. The new network will enable the flagship institution, which is home to more than 40,700 students and 14,000 faculty and staff, to continue its tradition of global academic leadership on its 1,300-acre campus while saving millions of dollars over the life of the infrastructure versus other offerings.

With rising student, faculty, and staff expectations for reliable, fast, and ubiquitous connectivity for the skyrocketing number of mobile, connected, and IoT devices they use daily,1 higher education institutions like UMD are responding by modernizing their networks. This includes solutions that enable them to secure, centrally manage, and maximize the performance of hundreds of thousands of endpoints, while minimizing costs and IT overhead.

"Because our institution has committed to being the nation’s first ‘Do Good’ campus, it’s imperative that we provide students, faculty, researchers, and administrators with the tools and technologies they need to achieve their goals for making a difference in areas like climate change, sustainable development, and global equity," said Axel Persaud, Assistant Vice President of Enterprise Engineering for UMD. "That makes our new HPE Aruba Networking infrastructure critical to supporting our campus communities with world-class, always-on connectivity for today and tomorrow."

Seeking a secure, centralized, policy-driven network that would improve infrastructure visibility and application performance, UMD decided to standardize on HPE Aruba Networking across its entire footprint. “HPE Aruba Networking provided the best solution, which included securely authenticating our current census of 80,000 endpoints and scaling into the future,”  Persaud said. “Also, as the solution is all-inclusive, rather than requiring additional licensing or charging add-on costs for particular feature sets, it saves us multi-millions over the life of the infrastructure.”

The deployed solution will include approximately 19,000 wireless APs, including the latest generation of Wi-Fi 6E indoor APs. UMD also plans to deploy high-performance Wi-Fi outdoors to facilitate the growing interest in using green spaces for learning and to support intramural and competitive athletics.

For wired networking, UMD is implementing HPE Aruba Networking CX Series Switches, which will significantly improve bandwidth for researchers handling massive data sets. It will also support the adoption of new physical security and safety systems. "With respect to research, we'll be boosting throughput up to 25 times, depending upon the building," said Mark Addy, executive director of systems and networking for UMD. "For physical security, our wired deployment will support new, more granular systems, such as readers for entering individual dorm rooms."

To unify, simplify, and secure wired and wireless connectivity, UMD is also adopting HPE Aruba Networking Central On-Premises, for AI-powered management, along with a combination of HPE Aruba Networking ClearPass and Dynamic Segmentation for automated, role-based security of wired and wireless endpoints and IoT solutions.

Further, the institution is leveraging HPE Aruba Networking User Experience Insight (UXI) to improve end-user experiences with AI-powered monitoring and troubleshooting of application and network performance issues. “For an outage on a distant agriculture campus, UXI identified the problem and then proactively notified us that the same issue was affecting another building, even though users hadn’t yet reported it,” Addy said. “This enabled us to fix both facilities, saving us from making a four-hour round-trip to diagnose the problem on-site.”

The UMD IT staff is excited about the possibilities enabled by HPE Aruba Networking. "Academically, having a high-performance network that enables connecting any device a person wishes to bring on campus is a competitive differentiator for attracting students, faculty, and staff," Persaud said. "In IT, we've gained a true partner that has already supplied us with better support than any networking vendor we've worked with before."