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By: Tony Ridzyowski on February 14th, 2019

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Top 5 Campus Networking Trends for 2019

Higher Ed

Students sitting around table with electronic devicesThese five trends will redefine campus networking in 2019.

A university campus is one of the most interesting environments in which to watch new networking trends emerge. Combining the needs of large enterprise campuses with the unique demands of household consumers, campuses equally prioritize corporate prerogatives like data security and the demands of individuals like streaming video quality.

Furthermore, college campuses represent the ultimate BYOD environments. From cell phones and tablets to smart assistants and even smart microwaves, campuses have little say over which devices end up connected to their networks, which is one of the foremost reasons why their cybersecurity must be absolutely airtight.

As data-hungry devices proliferate, campus network demands will continue to increase. Network performance, security, and reliability have never been more important for America’s colleges and universities. To prepare their networks for success, stakeholders in higher ed need to be aware of what’s coming down the pipeline. These five trends are poised to have the greatest impact on campus networking in 2019.

 

1. New Wireless Tech: WiFi 6 and 5G

The potent combination of WiFi 6 and 5G will transform campus networking design — and higher education as a whole — in 2019 and beyond. WiFi 6 will use the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands to achieve speeds up to 11 Gbps.

While it promises to bring lightning-fast cellular connectivity, 5G’s propagation issues will require university campuses to rethink both how they design their WiFi networks and how they ensure continuous cellular connectivity on campus.

As users become accustomed to these new technologies, their expectations for continuous connectivity will rise in kind, and campus networks will need to pay special attention to any gaps in coverage.

 

2. Rise of IoT Devices on Campus Demands New Cybersecurity Strategies

Campuses are using IoT technology much in the way that enterprises are, connecting everything from light switches to ID card readers to thermostats. When properly secured, IoT devices can promote efficiency and reduce waste; when left unsecured, however, these devices can open up holes in the network’s cybersecurity defenses.

More points of connectivity mean more opportunities for cybercriminals to gain unauthorized access to valuable data — or even bring down the entire network. Every new device that’s added to a network can act as a new opening for cybercriminals to infiltrate. As the IoT grows and multiplies, securing every nook and cranny of campus networks has never been more challenging — or more urgent.

 

3. Competitive eSports Drive Need for Increased Bandwidth

Campus networks vary from corporate enterprises in one major regard: they play host to a huge variety of internet activity — not just work-related tasks. These activities vary from edtech tools to streaming video — and, recently, to competitive eSports.

Especially popular among college-aged students, the eSports industry is predicted to reach a global value of $1.5 billion by 2020. Over 100 colleges have even started to offer varsity eSports programs. These programs offer the potential to boost both admissions and revenue. However, supporting a thriving eSports team (and their “fans”) requires powerful networks with the requisite speed, bandwidth, and reliability.

 

4. Multi-Cloud and Hybrid Cloud Solutions

Across a number of verticals — from manufacturing to healthcare and now to higher education — IT leaders are finding that traditional cloud solutions no longer meet the growing variety of demands on their networks. Nowhere is this truer than on college campuses. As a result, multi-cloud and hybrid cloud solutions should see greater uptake among higher ed institutions in 2019.

For many universities, school-owned private clouds are central to operations. Among other things, they’re used to host sensitive financial and student records, valuable research, and confidential institutional data. At the same time, students and professors are increasingly mobile, and campuses must also offer connectivity and resources to visiting researchers and lecturers. A hybrid cloud model offers a perfect solution — one that combines the security and reliability of a private cloud with the scalability, speed, and agility of a public cloud solution.

 

5. Network Segmentation

There is no environment in which a “one-size-fits-all” network is less practical than a college campus. A diverse array of devices — advanced research equipment, connected thermostats, personal laptops, video game consoles, and shared desktop computers — all have to share the same network. For this reason, segmentation and microsegmentation are becoming crucial tools in the campus IT director’s toolbelt.

Using switches, firewalls, and more, universities can implement network segmentation easily, effectively, and affordably. These tools divide networks into segments earmarked by their appropriate use — one may be for faculty, another for students, and still another for guests. When a new device connects to the network, network admission control technology can determine the appropriate placement.

 

Preparing Campus Networks for the Future

With a host of emerging trends expected to transform how campus networks are built and managed, college and university IT departments are being tasked with a motherlode of directives. Brand new wireless technologies, rising cybersecurity threats, a growing number of user endpoints, skyrocketing bandwidth demands — add these onto the day-to-day challenges of keeping the printers printing and the projectors projecting, and it’s fair to say they have their hands full.

That’s why colleges and universities around the country are turning to managed service providers that bring the skills needed to tackle these emerging trends. With a proven track record of success bringing campus networks up to speed, the experts at Turn-key Technologies are ready to help college and university campuses prepare their networks for the future of higher education.