More campuses are expanding their digital footprint to handle online learning and increased connectivity. This has many higher education schools looking at private networks to provide them with both security and the infrastructure to manage the increased bandwidth.
Private networks come with many benefits over public networks. They allow administrators to scale and customize them to their changing needs and bring more reliability and increased security. We’ll look at these benefits and more, explore case studies, and give you some guidelines on implementing a private network.
Challenges Faced by Higher Ed Schools
There are endless challenges in higher education, but many technological ones can be traced back to one culprit: public networks. Here are some of the issues that reliance on public networks causes:
- Limited control: Public networks can be accessed by anyone, which limits the control system administrators have over allocating bandwidth, prioritizing traffic, and applying robust security measures.
- Security issues and data breaches: There have been over 2,691 data breaches in educational institutions since 2005, and one of the main causes has been public networks.
- Downtime and latency: When campus traffic shares bandwidth with public traffic, connectivity can never be considered stable.
- Inability to scale to fit growing needs: With public networks, a surge in traffic can lead to network congestion and leave institutions with no option to free up bandwidth.
Impact of Private Networks
With a private network, higher education institutions don’t have to share the network and bandwidth it provides with the general public. They also have complete control over its configuration. Here are some of the benefits that come with these features:
- Better security and data protection: Network administrators can apply custom security measures to prevent unauthorized access and data breaches.
- Reliable connectivity: With a private network, connections are more stable and consistent because traffic is limited to faculty, students, and visitors with access.
- Scaling to changing needs: An institution’s network usage can wax and wane throughout the year, and a private network can scale to accommodate these changes.
- Control and customization: Private networks can be tailored to the needs of an institution, giving more important resources and traffic priority over others.
Tools/Technologies/Strategies for Enhanced Connectivity
Higher education institutions also use strategies and technologies to multiply the benefits of a private network’s infrastructure. Here are just a few:
- Managed Wi-Fi: This gives institutions centralized control over their wireless network to provide better security and a stable connection across the campus.
- Cloud-managed networks: Administrators can securely access the tools they need to manage the private network from multiple devices, any location, and at any time.
- Security as a service: Many institutions are outsourcing cybersecurity to experts with advanced tools and up-to-date knowledge of the threat landscape for better data protection.
Implementing a Private Network Strategy
Transitioning to a private network is not trivial and requires careful planning and phased implementation. Here are some common steps:
- Review your current network’s usage patterns, pain points, and future requirements to establish a baseline.
- Quantify the goals for the shift—whether it be boosting security, driving availability upwards, or increasing bandwidth—to align implementation to desired outcomes.
- Compare private network solutions that fit your needs. Make sure to look at scalability, technology integration with your existing systems, cybersecurity options, and pricing.
- Ensure that implementation is done in the following stages:
- Create a roadmap, define timelines, and allocate resources.
- Set up the hardware and software.
- Connect network segments systematically while testing connectivity.
- Train staff on how to manage the private network and inform users of any policy changes.
- Regularly monitor and evaluate the private network to address issues quickly and adjust to changes.
Integrations with Other Technologies
The real power of modern private networks is in how seamlessly they integrate with all the other exciting technologies transforming higher education.
An example is the cloud. Institutions can shift more data and apps into the cloud with a robust private network, knowing transfers will be secure and lightning-fast. This opens the door to leveraging cloud analytics, storage, and serverless computing.
Private networks also make connecting and managing Internet of Things (IoT) devices simple across campuses. Schools can deploy “smart campus” tech like sensors, cameras, and digital signage to help enrich learning spaces.
Unified communications tools, like video conferencing and secure file sharing, work more efficiently when powered by a private network. Its low latency and plenty of bandwidth give faculty and students a seamless collaboration experience.
Modern private networks operate as flexible glue, bringing together all the technologies campuses need to offer a connected and cutting-edge education.
The Future of Private Networks
As more campuses switch from public networks, private networks’ improvements to higher education infrastructures will continue.
AI and machine learning have already proven their success in processing data quicker and easier than humans can. These technologies will alert network administrators of bottlenecks and security issues before they result in disruptions or data breaches.
Cyber threats will only get more advanced, and cybersecurity will always remain a top priority. Real-time threat intelligence, continuous vulnerability scanning, and zero-trust architectures will help put a stop to them.
The increased use of IoT devices in higher education will require even more scalability from their private networks.
The following case studies present the transformative impact of private networks in higher education, showcasing their ability to address connectivity challenges:
- Arizona State University: ASU partnered with Cox Communications to deploy a neutral host solution, addressing the challenge of poor indoor cellular coverage across the campus. This innovative approach provides seamless connectivity for students, faculty, and staff, regardless of their carrier.
- Carnegie Mellon University: CMU uses a cloud-managed private network solution for improved resilience and to connect IoT devices across the campus.
Private networks are emerging as a preferred choice for higher education institutions seeking to address the growing demands of a digitized academic landscape. By providing a dedicated, secure, and scalable network infrastructure, they offer a compelling solution to the challenges of connectivity, security, and network performance.
The potential of private networks extends beyond connectivity and security. They enable institutions to embrace new technologies, such as IoT devices, smart campuses, and advanced research applications, opening doors to previously unimagined possibilities.
Institutions that embrace private networks position themselves at the forefront of innovation, creating a robust and secure foundation for the future of learning and research.
Private Network FAQs
What are the primary benefits of private networks in higher education?
Beyond baseline connectivity, private networks really excel at security, reliability, and flexibility. With dedicated infrastructure, you can prevent downtime disruptions and protect systems in ways public networks make almost impossible.
How do private networks address common challenges in higher education?
Private environments alleviate many of the headaches public networks cause. Vulnerabilities are reduced because systems are isolated and encrypted. Bandwidth control can curb lag no matter how many users are online.
Are there cost implications for implementing private networks in higher education?
The initial investment may be more, but you recoup these costs through better security, less downtime, and optimized infrastructure use.
How do private networks integrate with existing systems or technologies?
Modern solutions are extremely interoperable. They plug into your current hardware and software out of the box. You also get built-in support for cloud platforms, analytics tools, and IoT tech, so you can get more from future investments.
What are the future trends or predictions related to private networks in higher education?
Experts anticipate even wider higher adoption as capabilities grow. We’ll see AI optimize network operations and security tighten up as threats get more sophisticated.
Trust in Cox Business and Cox Private Networks as your expert technology partner in the journey of higher education transformation. With our unparalleled expertise, commitment to reliability, and exceptional customer service, we stand by you in shaping the future of education. Connect with us today and be a part of the change.