Inspiring the world since 1583, the University of Edinburgh is one of the oldest elite universities in the world. Hosting more than 44,000 students from some 156 countries, the University continues to attract the world’s greatest minds. Following an 18-month tendering process to find a strategic partner, the University awarded the contract to European Electronique (EE) in 2019. The multi-million-pound contract to architect and implement a solution to replace the University’s entire wired and wireless network infrastructure, including firewalls, spans a period of up to 13 years. EE undertook an intensive detailed design process with the University to define and architect the solution in partnership with leading vendors, Aruba HPE and Fortinet.
As one of the premier educational institutions in the world University of Edinburgh (UoE) understands how the network infrastructure of the University plays a foundational role in supporting all aspects of academic, administrative, research and social life on campus.
UoE made the decision to take the University’s infrastructure to the next level by embarking on a comprehensive 18-month programme to find the best solution available and the right strategic partner to undertake the complete transformation of the University’s campus and residential network infrastructure.
UoE had a very clear vision of what they wanted from a Network Infrastructure Solution with very specific requirements. They emphasised the need for a platform that was forward-looking, innovative and capable, in both current bandwidth/capacity and for future expansion. The University’s requirement was vast, covering more than 250 locations situated across the city of Edinburgh and the local region. The solution demanded high availability, resilience and redundancy, aiming to establish a steady platform where the network functions as the University’s ‘Digital Carrier’.
The University awarded the contract to European Electronique (EE) in 2019. The multi-million-pound contract to architect and implement a solution to replace the entire wired and wireless network infrastructure, including a residential network, spans a period of up to 13 years. EE undertook an intensive detailed design process with the University to define and architect the solution in partnership with Aruba Networks
Using advanced technologies from Aruba Networks, EE designed a reliable, scalable and secure network infrastructure with intelligent management that was multi-tenancy capable, allowing dynamic configuration for ease of administration.
Despite working through very challenging times – with pandemic and global equipment constraints – EE has been an excellent partner for the University. Their customer understanding, technical know-how, thorough project management and agility have been excellent.TONY WEIR
Director of IT Infrastructure
University of Edinburgh
ARUBA AIRWAVE: CAMPUS CONNECTIVITY, REDEFINED
Optimising Business Outcomes
The advantages of the solution are manifold:
- The University can anticipate cost savings from reduced downtimes and proactive problem resolution, ensuring continuity in teaching, research, and administrative tasks.
- Enhanced user experience, be it for students accessing online resources or faculty engaging in remote teaching, directly contributes to the institution’s reputation and satisfaction scores.
- Insights offered by Aruba AirWave empower the IT teams to make informed decisions on capacity planning and infrastructure upgrades, ensuring optimal resource allocation.
UNLOCKING KNOWLEDGE, SAFEGUARDING ACCESS
At the University of Excellence, the implementation of Aruba ClearPass, supported by the expertise of European Electronique and in partnership with Fortinet, has revolutionised their network infrastructure. This collaboration has furnished the University with a more secure, efficient, and scalable network system, essential for their expansive digital environment.
As the University’s digital domain expanded, accommodating a myriad of devices became a significant challenge—from faculty smartphones and student laptops to sophisticated research instruments and a host of IoT devices. European Electronique, harnessing the prowess of Aruba ClearPass and Fortinet’s security solutions, delivered a seamless and robust framework that not only ensures uninterrupted connectivity but also maintains stringent security standards.
The integration of Aruba ClearPass has given the University unparalleled insights into the devices tapping into their network, along with potent policy management tools. The synergy between European Electronique’s tailored solutions and Fortinet’s security expertise means the University can now navigate the complex digital demands of a contemporary educational setting with ease and confidence.
From an operational standpoint, the benefits are multifaceted, including substantial cost reductions and enhanced efficiency. The automation of device onboarding, facilitated by European Electronique, significantly cuts down IT workloads, while the advanced security protocols, a hallmark of Fortinet, mitigate the financial and reputational ramifications of potential security breaches. This case study stands as a statement to the collaborative strength of European Electronique, Aruba, and Fortinet—three vanguards in their fields, working in concert to deliver a network infrastructure that is as robust as it is refined, ensuring the University of Excellence remains at the forefront of academic innovation.
UNIFIED CAMPUS CONNECTIVITY
The UoE’s complex ecosystems demand robust, secure, and flexible network infrastructures. Leveraging Aruba’s wired and wireless network solutions has yielded transformative outcomes for UoE. Foremost, there has been a notable improvement in campus connectivity. With the influx of students, faculty, and staff using multiple devices, UoE requires a network that can handle dense device environments. Aruba’s infrastructure ensures seamless, high-speed internet access across lecture halls, libraries, dormitories, and even outdoor spaces. This consistent and reliable connectivity enhances the learning experience, facilitating everything from online research to digital classroom interactions.
Beyond connectivity, Aruba’s network infrastructure, configured and implemented by EE has been pivotal in fortifying campus security. Like all universities, UoE holds sensitive information, ranging from personal student data to high-stakes research, and is often a target for cyber-attacks. Aruba’s advanced security features, such as role-based access controls and AI-driven threat detection, ensure that the UoE’s digital resources are well-protected. The flexibility of the solution supports the evolving pedagogical needs of the University, allowing for the simple integration of learning platforms and facilitating remote learning during unforeseen challenges, Aruba’s adaptive network infrastructure ensures UoE remains agile and future-ready. In essence, the solution allows UoE to benefit from enhanced connectivity, bolstered security, and an infrastructure that supports academic innovation and excellence.
Project Team – As a strategic partner, EE provided the University with a dedicated Project Delivery Team (PDT) which included Solutions Architects covering different technologies (Wired and Wireless Aruba Networking and Fortinet Security), a Commercial team (Pre-sales Consultancy, Partner Manager and Account Management), Project Management (Project Manager and Co-ordinators) as well as professional services engineers covering a variety of skill sets to deliver all aspects of the project. EE utilised our own, in-house Professional Services staff for the project management, configuration and installation of all solution components, working alongside colleagues from our vendor partners Aruba HPE and Fortinet. The project also received Board sponsorship and EE’s Commercial Director to oversee the project and actively participate in all Board-level meetings.
Firewalling – EE implemented an HA pair of 6301F FortiGate firewalls on the perimeter, to run perimeter, WLAN, campus edge and school services. EE also implemented an HA pair of 3400E FortiGate datacentre firewalls. Each firewall was connected to all 4 core switches, with the perimeter using 4 x 100Gb links and the datacentre using 4 x 40Gb links. The speed of these links was selected based on the required throughputs for the respective VDOMs in each location.
Core Infrastructure – EE architected a platform from which we could build a stable, reliable, fast, and deterministic network. The core was comprised of 4 x HPE 12904E chassis switches which were selected for their brute capability around availability. We elected to use 4 core switches to ensure the ultimate offering in bandwidth capability, availability, and reliability. All switches were configured to have point to point routed links and utilise Equal Cost Multi-Path (ECMP) routing for load balancing, with fast failover in the event of issues.
Border and Distribution Switching – EE provided a common family of switches HPE 5945 and HPE 5980 (depending on location and requirements) across the border and distribution switching requirements. This provided a commonality of parts and spares across the estate, SFP28 connectivity, also available on the firewall facilitating a connection to all 4 border switches at 25Gb providing high availability of bandwidth with reduced optics, crucially providing fibre pairs between datacentres. The configuration of the distribution layer provided additional flexibility and expansion capability (switch capability).
Wireless Infrastructure – EE provided Aruba 7240XM controllers with two clusters being created, one per datacentre, providing N+N availability at a cluster level, and as deployed provides support for no greater than 80% utilisation in a cluster / datacentre failure scenario. The stock Access Point (AP) currently being deployed at the University is the Aruba AP-515. These are 802.11ax APs and provided the University with the latest standard of wireless AP from the project outset.
Monitoring and Management – EE provided several appliances to facilitate the running of the University’s estate. This included ClearPass appliances and Aruba Mobility Master (MM) appliances. EE provided ClearPass for authentication purposes. ClearPass is actively involved in every authentication onto the network. EE provided MM for the central in orchestration of all tunnelled connections between the APs and the WLAN Controllers.
KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER AND TRAINING
We always work on the assumption that ‘doing is learning’. EE’s approach involves a combination of one-on-one training backed by Aruba training credits. This allowed UoE’s technical team to work on the equipment that they will be implementing and supporting. This intensive ‘Mentor Training’ provides a practical understanding of UoE’s specific infrastructure. During this exercise, EE’s pre-staging team worked through the infrastructure documentation with UoE’s Technical Team ensuring that they understood the product, technology and configuration and that this could all be directly correlated with the documentation.
WHY EUROPEAN ELECTRONIQUE
European Electronique is a leading UK systems Integrator, specialising in the delivery of secure technology platforms including Hybrid IT, Cyber Security and Networking Infrastructure. Our innovative solutions are created in partnership with first class technology vendors and the vision of our customers provides the foundation on which we build. We have been designing solutions for both the private and public sectors for almost 30 years, offering an extensive portfolio of products and professional services, from consultancy, solution design and implementation to project management and 24/7 support services. From our Oxfordshire headquarters, we provide national coverage and have the scale and expertise to deliver solutions ranging from small implementations to large, complex multi-site projects.