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TKH utilises Aruba solutions in mission to provide world-class digital learning

TKH utilises Aruba solutions in mission to provide world-class digital learning

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Aruba is supporting The Knowledge Hub Universities (TKH), an Egyptian education investment and management company, in its mission to be a hub for world-class education through the use of cutting-edge digital learning tools, delivered in a convenient, secure and reliable manner.

The Knowledge Hub Universities (TKH) is an Egyptian education investment and management company established with the purpose of offering quality learning experiences, through the development of sustainable world-class educational institutions with state-of-the-art facilities to maximise community impact.

With the objective of offering world-class higher education centred around the principles of innovation, inclusivity and accessibility, TKH established the first campus of the Knowledge Hub Universities in New Cairo.

Hossam Ismail, IT Network Lead | Information Technology at The Knowledge Hub Universities, said: “Our flagship initiative has been setting up a multidisciplinary educational hub that host branches of leading international universities, delivering the same academic programmes offered at their mother campus and thus leading to the same, exact qualification and degrees.

“Providing students with the same quality of experience is pivotal to this and technology is a fundamental enabler of these world-class experiences.”

Clear long-term vision

Recognising that mobility and pervasive connectivity would be essential to implementing the innovations they intended to roll out at the university, TKH’s IT team selected Aruba as its networking technology partner.

“We needed exceptional wireless coverage across the entire campus,” said Ismail. “To protect the digital identities and activities of our students and staff, security was also a key requirement and Aruba was a clear industry leader in both these areas.”

Moreover, having used networking solutions from one of the largest international vendors at factories it owned, the El Sewedy Group, of which TKH is part of, was aware of the risks of vendor lock-in arising from inflexible proprietary solution architectures.

“We will be introducing several internationally acclaimed educational institutions to the region and need to ensure our environment is flexible, scalable and built on open standards. Aruba ticked all these boxes,” Ismail explained.

Establishing a rock-solid foundation

Starting with the first phase of TKH, consisting of different buildings with more than 60 classrooms, 20 lecture halls and workshops and 250 staff offices as well as recreational facilities and common areas, Ismail and his IT team worked closely with Aruba to implement Layer 3 switching and wireless Access Points (APs).

“We selected Wi-Fi 6 capable solutions because as a university, we are constantly introducing the very latest innovations to ensure our students have rapid access to the cutting-edge digital technologies,” said Ismail.

To deliver secure access for professors and admin staff while providing convenient wireless connectivity for visitors and guests, and to facilitate bring your own device (BYOD) for students in a controlled and uncompromisingly secure manner, the university implemented Aruba ClearPass.

Ismail and his team also decided to leverage Airwave Network Management to centrally monitor and manage the entire network so that the quality and integrity of services could be maintained at consistently high levels.

Aruba deliver a host of benefits

For Ismail and his team, the decision to partner with Aruba has paid dividends on multiple fronts – with world-class solution design and logistics support, the flexibility to repurpose investments, and a rapid realisation of ROI on the first phase, being highlights of the engagement.

Navigating lockdown logistics

Despite the impact of COVID-19 and logistical challenges, the implementation was completed within just eight-10 weeks.

An expertly crafted design, based on a detailed wireless heatmap, ensured the coverage of each Access Point was maximised while the high density PoE+ capability of the Aruba switches enabled these APs to be easily installed without the added complexity of power cabling. Other network connected devices such as security cameras and IP telephones have been similarly implemented with ease.

Supporting the latest e-Learning tools and devices

To deliver its digitally oriented curriculum, TKH makes use of several digital tools including a Learning Management System (LMS).

“The Aruba solution allows students and staff to have seamless, uninterrupted access to these essential learning tools. Moreover, through orchestrated and automated user and devices authentication via ClearPass, they can use these applications on their own personal devices which greatly aids adoption and utilisation,” said Ismail.

Also using ClearPass, his team has set up a ‘Guest Portal’ that conveniently authenticates staff and students based on the same credentials registered in the University’s Active Directory. Moreover, Aruba’s solution ensures compliance by automatically conducting a health check on all devices trying to connect to the network.

“If any vulnerabilities are detected, the system automatically takes remediation steps such as performing operating system and software updates. This ensures that every device that connects to our network is authenticated and secure,” said Ismail.

Rapid return on investment

Ismail estimated that the flexibility and scalability of Aruba’s solution will enable his team to realise a rapid ROI and continued operational efficiencies and savings.

Offering an example, he said: “In the first phase, we used Aruba 5400R series switches in our campus core and Aruba 2930F series switches in our campus access layer. As we expand for the next phase, we will replace the core with Aruba 8400 Campus Core switches. But we will still be able to use our existing 5400R series switches in our Distribution Layer.”

This next phase of the project, which is currently underway, involves scaling the Aruba wired and wireless network to two additional buildings.

Commenting on how the technical capabilities of Aruba’s solutions have been perfectly complimented by their competitive pricing, Ismail said: “We were impressed that Aruba could deliver market-leading solutions while offering us especially attractive pricing owing to us operating in the education sector.”

More innovation on the horizon

Based on the ‘exceptional’ experience that the University has had with Aruba – both from a technical as well as a support perspective – Ismail and his team are keen to deepen their engagement.

“From implementation through to daily operation, we have never faced even a single issue with our Aruba network. This kind of performance and reliability is rare with technology deployments,” he said.

TKH is already in discussion with Aruba to extend the network for the upcoming phase of the project which will involve expansion into a further five buildings.

“Our students and staff are incredibly happy with the performance and convenience of our network and associated digital services. This gives us the confidence to keep introducing Aruba solutions and new innovations that set our University apart as a pioneer,” concluded Ismail.

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