Case study: Oxford Brookes revamps network with Juniper

Oxford Brookes University signs Juniper Networks to overhaul its infrastructure and modernise services for students and staff

Sometime the odd tweak and little addition can ensure your IT infrastructure runs smoothly. Other times, only a full overhaul will do.

Oxford Brookes University decided it was time for the latter. The university was founded in 1972 and has alumni ranging from Gilbert Proesch – of Gilbert & George fame – to the chief executive of Save The Children.

The institution is home to over 18,000 students and 3,000 staff and getting the right services to support their course or their working day is of upmost importance. However, the university’s existing infrastructure, which it installed eight years ago, was not up to the challenge.

“Providing the next-generation services expected by our students for learning and leisure would have been a huge drain on our future network resources,” says Robin Breathe, chief technical officer at Oxford Brookes University.

Instead the IT team looked to the market and signed up Juniper Networks to revamp its back-end infrastructure.

Before embarking on the deal, Oxford Brookes carried out tests of Juniper’s EX Series Ethernet switches and SRX Series service gateways platforms for six months to ensure the kit was up to scratch.

Once it had completed testing, it took just six weeks to install the equipment on the main campus – all running Juniper’s Junos operating system – which included the security solution and the Junos Space Network Director for a single point of reference management tool, removing the need for separate applications to control different wired devices.

Mobile capacity

But the revamp wasn’t just about wired, with the university keen to embrace the continuing growth of mobile devices on campus.

“With the rapid growth and uptake of connected devices and given that generation Y increasingly expects to be connected “anytime, anywhere”, Oxford Brookes supports mobile devices,” says Tim Loveday, network and security manager at the university.

“We’re conscious of the need for network facilities that support the growth in mobile devices and we actively encourage the use of mobile applications and services among students and staff.”

The new equipment supports this vision, along with very specific applications for students and staff.

Virtual learning

“The network is the glue holding things together and it is the conduit for all services and applications,” says Loveday. “Juniper is supporting Oxford Brookes by deploying technologies that not only help students but also support staff in day to day activities such as central applications to support remote and virtual learning.”

The network is the glue holding things together and it is the conduit for all services and application

Tim Loveday, Oxford Brookes University

“Examples include finance applications that connect back to the corporate office environment when staff are working remotely, and Moodle, an online virtual learning environment that aims to encourage collaborative and engaged learning throughout universities.”

Mark Quartermaine, area vice-president for the UK and Ireland at Juniper Networks, says: “Unprecedented student demand for mobile internet and broadband creates unique security implications for research and education organisations on the front line of consumer and enterprise network access.

“Juniper’s superior networking platforms provide unparalleled security, bandwidth and reliability, enabling Oxford Brookes University to deliver advanced educational tools and services to meet the future demands of students.”

Although Oxford Brookes and Juniper Networks have worked together on the project since 2010, it was in August 2013 that the final campus was added to the network, enabling every student and member of staff to take advantage of the secure connections and extra capabilities wherever they were.

Breathe says: “Now, thanks to our partnership with Juniper Networks, we not only know that our new campus infrastructure is secure and scalable, but we have a roadmap in product innovation and capabilities that will help us meet future network demands.”

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