University Transforms Campus Learning Environment

University Transforms Campus Learning Environment

University Transforms Campus Learning Environment

University Malaysia Pahang equips network infrastructure for new learning experience and greater operational efficiency

  • Customer name
    University Malaysia Pahang (UMP)
  • Industry
  • Location
  • Number of employee/students
    • 1,000 employees
    • 5,000 students
  • Business challenge
    • Aging infrastructure hampering campus wide application performance
    • Need more robust network security measures and reliable remote access to administrative database
    • Limited access to secured administrative database
  • Network solution
    • Replaced existing multivendor environment with Cisco switching and routing solutions
    • Deployed network security solutions
    • Offered VPN access to mobile users
  • Product list
    • Routing and switching
      • Cisco Catalyst 2960 Series Switches
      • Cisco Catalyst 3560, 3750, 4500 and 4948 Series Switches
      • Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Switches
    • Security
      • Cisco ASA 5540 Adaptive Security Appliance
      • Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Firewall Services Module
      • Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Intrusion Detection System
    • Network Management
      • CiscoWork LAN Management System
  • Business results
    • Increased network performance and user productivity, promoting collaboration
    • Improved multilevel access to applications, data and network resources
    • Accelerated desktop PC and application speed through Gigabit Ethernet and network security technology

University Malaysia Pahang (UMP) is Malaysia's leading technology and engineering institution, having attracted 5,000 students since it opened in 2003. UMP is also home to 1,000 employees, operating out of two campuses in eastern Malaysia. UMP aims to grow its student population to 15,000 by 2013.

At the core of UMP's strategy is to build an environment that will foster learning, encourage exploration, and develop the leaders of tomorrow. The challenge is to provide high-quality educational programs and proactively engage students and educators.

UMP's planners realized that networks of today are evolving to address four new developments for the end user:

  • Increase in desktop computing power
  • Introduction of bandwidth-intensive applications
  • Expansion of highly sensitive data on the network
  • Presence of multiple device types, accessing campus networks through multiple points

Until recently, campus ICT facilities were running on a LAN over a Gigabit Ethernet backbone and 10/100 Ethernet technology using equipment near the end of its life, which did not deliver optimum performance and incorporated only minimal security measures. Additionally, disparate and multivendor environments made upgrading and network maintenance difficult.

"We needed to upgrade our infrastructure and keep up with requirements for world-class learning environments. To do so, we needed to improve application performance and ensure security measures are in place. Above and beyond, we also needed to keep costs low," says Roslan Awang, acting ICT Director, University Malaya Pahang.

Over the next few months UMP's vision began to take shape. University decision makers sought to reshape the university's networking capabilities. They began to envisage plans to establish best practices networking standards on a single, integrated facility critical to the future of UMP and 21st-century educational standards.

The network is the critical platform to effectively manage the delivery of information and applications across campuses. UMP thus chose secure wired network, network management, and switching and routing solutions from Cisco. The university IT team began taking out the existing infrastructure in December 2008, and within several months had completely transitioned to the new network.

"We needed a solution that we could depend on long-term. Cisco has set the standard for networks today and Cisco produces the best and most reliable core equipment. With that, we decided on the Cisco Catalyst Series Switch because of its superior performance. Having a uniform network all the way from the core out to the edge just gives us much more flexibility in what we do, and that much more visibility into our environment," says Roslan.

UMP installed Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Switches, which deliver high port density and superior performance in a flexible platform. To build the network foundation for the two campuses UMP also deployed a combination of Cisco Catalyst 2960, 3560, 4500, and 4948 series switches, as well as a variety of robust Cisco routers.

The switches provide exceptional bandwidth and performance for even the most demanding educational and campus administration needs, as well as features such as advanced quality-of-service (QoS) to support voice and video services.

"Given today's increased complexity of security threats, such as malicious internet worms, denial of service attacks, and e-business application attacks, we want to achieve efficient network intrusion security critical to maintaining a high level of protection in the university," says Roslan. UMP deployed two security solutions. The switches and routers also include built-in management tools to ease network administration, which helped the university protect important information, keep unauthorized people off the network, guard privacy, and maintain uninterrupted operation.

The Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series Intrusion Detection System Services Module (IDSM-2) serves as an important intrusion prevention system (IPS) solution to safeguard the university from costly and debilitating network breaches and to help ensure secured student and staff inbound and outbound traffic to the Internet. UMP also installed the Cisco ASA 5500 Series Adaptive Security Appliance, which provides intelligent threat defence that stops attacks before they penetrate the network perimeter, controls network and application activity, and delivers secure remote access and site-to-site connectivity. Together these solutions provide security in breadth, precision, and depth for protecting university networks, while reducing the overall deployment and operational costs associated with implementing comprehensive multilayer security.

To manage the switched network, UMP deployed CiscoWorks LAN Management Solution (LMS), a suite of powerful management tools that simplifies configuration, administration, monitoring, and troubleshooting. CiscoWorks LMS gives the university a centralized system for sharing device information and increasing awareness of the state of the network.

"With Cisco solutions, we can now proactively monitor and maintain network performance, identify potential issues before they affect our users, and implement preventive security measures to ensure uninterrupted access and productivity for our staff members and students," Roslan says.

Installation of new network and security infrastructure for UMP was a smooth process that took less than six months to complete. During installation, the university was able to upgrade its entire infrastructure with minimal disruption to existing services.

With Cisco networking solution in place, UMP can now take full advantage of its network to deliver on the promise of converged networking, making UMP the first local institution to deploy secure Gigabit connection, providing 1 Gbps speed to the desktop and 10 Gbps speed to the distribution and core switches using Cisco security solutions. This has further enabled the university to provide e-learning facilities such as multimedia and video streams to students remotely.

"Cisco solutions let us enhance our local network to match what true and high-speed connectivity is capable of doing," says Roslan. "We're increasing network performance and user productivity, enabling the university to collaborate easier. The new network infrastructure also significantly improved access to applications, data and network resources for supervising lectures, administrators and students, overall improving learning environment through multimedia and video."

By migrating to an IP-based platform UMP was also able to achieve substantial cost savings compared to its earlier systems. "We no longer have to worry about separate networks, as the new Cisco infrastructure has made network management easier," Roslan says. "Administrators can easily push out new configurations, update software, manage and maintain network infrastructure from a central point, saving time and money. The standardized platform has definitely made part replacement easier."

The network is more reliable than ever, because CiscoWorks LMS helps UMP detect problems before they occur with systemwide, device-specific monitoring. CiscoWorks LMS is used for performance monitoring and testing. Additionally, one of the best features of Cisco Catalyst switches is that it allows the IT team to monitor performance from within the switch, without having to add another host onsite.

For UMP, the best part of a converged network is that there is no longer a struggle to find the right expertise and support to monitor, manage, and maintain the university's network environment. With its end-to-end Cisco network solution in place, UMP is also taking advantage of more rich media applications to improve the educational experience for both students and instructors.

As the network expands beyond the browser window, there is an increasing integration of ubiquitous and connected computing devices within any environment. Understanding this trend, UMP has began plans to admit a larger range of devices to the campus databases with Cisco Network Admission Control (NAC). At the same time Cisco NAC gives UMP a powerful, rules-based method of preventing unauthorized access and improving network resiliency.

UMP's efforts are helping the university become a 21st-century educational institution, raising the bar in the education sector and setting a benchmark for other institutions in Malaysia.


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