BCIT rolls out wireless blanket

The best advice Ian McLeod can offer to organizations seeking to build out a wieldy wireless implementation is to “start small.”

McLeod is the computer resources director for the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), which recently fulfilled the first stage of a three-year plan to deliver ubiquitous wireless access across its five-campus system. Both faculty and students alike wanted secure wireless at BCIT — the trick was how to deliver Wi-Fi safely and securely.

Wireless is a key part of BCIT’s Technology Enabled Knowledge (TEK) initiative, a seven-year undertaking to enhance teaching and learning through the innovative use of technology, McLeod said. “We wanted to activate and roll out wireless across all our campuses,” McLeod said.

The school features locations it terms Smart Learning Spaces (SLS), “technology-enhanced spaces” that integrate computer, multimedia and network infrastructure. BCIT concluded that the best way to accomplish this task was to develop a pilot program.

BCIT looked at several wireless vendors, McLeod said. BCIT has existing Nortel infrastructure, but this was right around the time when the airspace issue between Cisco and Nortel was up in the air, he said. “We were looking at both tech sets…we had, and are still using, Nortel power-over-Ethernet switches to power the access points. We weren’t sure how things were playing out.”

In choosing wireless, BCIT wanted a combination of new technology, low maintainance and scalability, “and the kind of product to give us easier-to-use authentication and security,” McLeod said.

In the end, BCIT selected Aruba Networks for its wireless needs. Specifically, the institution is using the vendor’s

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