Over the past 2 ½ weeks we’ve had meetings with 14 schools or school systems to talk about BYOD (crazy right?). Literally every IT Director or Head of School I’ve spoken with is asking the same question. “How do we support BYOD for students and teachers in the coming school year?”
At SecurEdge, we don’t make wireless lan hardware solutions….but we do design, install, and support them for our clients. And when so many people are asking the same question I like to post the answers here so that it can be useful to many more schools looking for help.
Here are 4 things to look for in a wireless solution to support the Bring Your Own Device wave:
Wireless in the old days (4 years ago) was mostly a nice to have hot spot type of service you provided for the users in the library and some select upper school areas. Not anymore, even K-5th graders are now using iPads in the classroom. So you’ll need a solution that can scale. The only way to do that is to have a system that is centrally managed. All of your management, wireless security, and settings should be in one place for your entire wireless solution.
Troubleshooting a wired network is much different than a school wireless network. How do you know where the user is and which access point they are connected to when they are having problems? How do you know if it’s a driver issue on the netbook or simply the wrong password? Your wireless platform has to have User Visibility- this includes:
-Who is the user (Identity)?
-Where are they connected and what access point are they connected to (Location)?
-What type of device are they using (Device ID)?
-What software is running on the device (Vista, Windows 7, iOS, Android, etc.)?
Today’s wireless network management needs to see all of the components you’ll have to troubleshoot. You’re not just looking at switch ports anymore.
Today’s wireless system needs to be smart. Here are some of the ways it will need intelligence:
-It should load balance users across access points. This is really important in large classrooms and lecture halls.
-The access points should auto adjust channel and power settings so they don’t interfere with each other
Role Based Access Control
The system needs to be able to firewall users from each other, and from the rest of the network. Students, Faculty, and Guests all get different access levels based upon their identity and the level of trust you have in their device. And since your system can even tell what type of device the end user has, you can have a policy that limits iPhones but allows iPads.
If you’re a school needing help with any of these things, we offer a free consultation to help get you pointed in the right direction, just contact us here. We also have some great resources on the site like our school wireless design guide for some great free information.