Building a Reliable and Safe Wireless System on Campus

By Jeffrey Mullienix, Raffa Technology

_4286297Everyone in your office expects a flawless wireless experience. Staff bring personal phones and iPads to the office. Conference room wifi must work well for staff members and guests. When your business clients come to your office, they expect to connect seamlessly when working with you.

How can you accommodate these different devices and user groups, and still keep your network reliable and safe?

Here are some best practice Raffa uses to provide secure and reliable wireless solutions to many of our client’s businesses and nonprofit organizations.

A multi-campus school asked us to build out a wireless solution for staff, students and visitors. The key to the security was keeping the students separate from the secure staff resources, and keeping guests off everything but the Internet.

Client Requirements:

  1. Students: Require access to vital student resources on the network but must be kept from Staff files.
  2. Staff: Need to access both the staff and student resources, and have access to printers and other network resources used by administrators.
  3. Guests: Provide access only to the Internet.

The two key technologies we used to address this requirement were Meraki wireless access points and Dell SonicWall firewalls. With this hardware, we created separate wireless networks for each group and restricted their access to only the resources they needed. It also supported specific designated locations for guests to prevent the wireless signal from broadcasting outside of the building. However, access for students and teachers was setup so that they could access the wireless from anywhere on campus.

By running each wireless network we created using a Dell SonicWall, we were able to connect them with the wired network. This allowed us to use other technologies like Barracuda’s web content filtering solution to help prevent malware and block inappropriate content. It also allowed us to limit the bandwidth of each wireless network so that the guest network would not use all of the available bandwidth and slow down the other networks.

This solution and architecture worked together to provide guests who were waiting for students with internet access. It gave teachers a valuable tool to educate the students without requiring them to use a cable plugged into the wall. The school embraced this freedom from wired connections while still maintaining security and restricting access by providing each student with a laptop to use while they were at their desks.

If you have questions, please contact me at jmullienix@raffa.com.

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