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When ICT Services Manager Nick Wright arrived at Blackpool and The Fylde College (B&FC), he found a wireless network with authentication and security systems based on eight-year-old technology. Connectivity was patchy, and the IT staff was overloaded with requests to create temporary accounts that would enable users to log on. To remedy that situation, promote selfservice, and support the organisation’s goal of promoting digital learning anytime in anyplace, Nick and his staff began searching for a better wireless network solution.
“Users had to re-authenticate all the time,” says Wright, “even after losing a signal just by moving between buildings. That meant people were re-authenticating 10 to 20 times a day, and our Servers and Storage team was spending up to 10 hours a week creating accounts. Security was also a problem: We had a WPA2 pre-shared key that was distributed on business cards.” Wright researched solutions for providing secure Wi-Fi for the B&FC campuses and found that, among educational institutions, Cloudpath ES was the solution of choice. “The self enrollment feature and certificate-based authentication in particular make it the right fit for us,” he says. “We require users to change passwords every six months, so enabling users to enroll their own devices is a big timesaver for our ICT staff.”
Connection procedures are simple, but the ICT staff has enlisted the help of the Learning Resources staff to become “Wi-Fi experts” and assist users, if necessary, in enrolling devices. “This support means that users only come to IT if there’s a serious problem,” says Wright. “That has spread the load of assisting people with connecting to the network and has allowed our 20-person ICT staff to focus more on other projects.”