SafeConnect has earned a reputation for providing a simple user experience for students as well as being easy to deploy and easy to manage.
Universities and Colleges have an obligation to residential students to provide certain computing resources. At a minimum, an access port in the dorm room. But for many schools, available resources have exploded to mean wireless access, high speed internet access, and voice over IP services.
Network Administrators and Security Managers must strike a balance between the conveniences of providing network access to the very edge and maintaining security and acceptable use policies.
All UF residents are provided both wired and wireless high speed Internet though DNET, the Department of Housing and Residence Education network access system. With more than 7,500 students currently residing in the university dorms, an additional 18,000 students living in university apartment villages, and 500 university employees living in campus housing, managing access on this state-of-the- art multi-vendor 802.1x-enabled network environment that contains more than 90 switches is a daunting task. With more than 25,000 users connecting a myriad of devices – like smart phones, video game consoles, and laptop computers – via wired and wireless networks daily, the school faced a major dilemma. Network administrators needed a solution that struck a delicate balance between granting students rapid network access; maintaining network integrity and security; and implementation and support costs.
The University of Florida turned to SafeConnect which was designed to deliver a scalable, easy-to-install and maintain NAC solution that can be non-intrusively deployed within complex, diverse enterprise networks.
SafeConnect enables network administrators at UF to easily manage end user authentication, guest access, anti-virus, anti-spyware updates, Microsoft security patches, P2P file sharing, and custom UF-specific endpoint security policies. Users not in compliance with security policies receive individualized web-based policy notifications regarding the reason for non-compliance (e.g. out of date anti-virus protection) and are guided through a remediation process with instructions and a link to an internal or external source where the appropriate software or virus definition can be downloaded.
As a Community College, SOCC is unique in the sense that the student demographic includes a campus residential housing population. These apartments are thought of as homes and our network needs to accommodate all the home-like devices that may not typically be present on a community college campus such as Skype capability and a variety of gaming devices.
All students, including commuters and resident students, need access to the same services from any location. Residents also have access to shared drives and storage areas on the SAN; making it especially important that their malware protection is current. An increase in the number of students registering for both on-campus and distance learning classes also meant that the volume of access and bandwidth requirements would increase.
The SOCC network infrastructure is complex; essentially the network for a small city. They’re using a Cisco hub and spoke layout with a 6509 at the distribution layer and 4500 cisco switches at the edge. Whatever NAC solution selected would need to be able to integrate without having to upgrade the entire network.
The SafeConnect NAC solution answered all of these requirements. The product is software-appliance based and operates at Layer 3 without any Layer 2 switch manipulation. The system operates in an out-of-line network fashion and it is highly scalable, so SOCC was able to handle everyone at one time – even if the number of users accessing the network should happen to double or triple. This means that during peak times, such as registration and back-to-school, they don’t have to worry about the network crashing. The entire campus now has wireless capability and SafeConnect works equally as well whether the student is connecting wirelessly from the library, dorms, or from home.
One benefit to selecting SafeConnect was the product’s track record of being able to identify new devices and provide that information in a relatively short time frame. When the iPad was first introduced, it was fingerprinted and SOCC was able to recognize it and provide access to our students within 24 hours. SafeConnect is provided as a managed service so whenever new devices come out, or anti-virus or operating system version upgrades are announced, clients automatically receive them, they don’t have to remember to search for the updates and that makes life more efficient.