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CIO Interview: Setting Up a Customer-centric Campus Network

T.C. Seow | Dec. 9, 2014
How the CIO of the Singapore Management University sets expectations and gains mindshare to push for a customer-centric campus-wide network for all.

Secondly is "blindspot" areas. If there's no connectivity, no student would want to be that location no matter how good it's been fitted out. We need to upgrade every space—faculty rooms, offices, open spaces, remote corners. Bandwidth is another issue, as there are core video streaming lessons, online learning, rich media.

Third was security. SMU is in the city, we have a concourse that's open to the public. There are retail shops there. It's purpose-built to connect all the schools together. There're shops, food courts, clinics, spa, studios, etc. Right smack in the middle is the Bras Basah train station. Underground and sheltered, that is where students conduct meetings, dance classes, public performances. The old wireless APs (access points) didn't have robust wireless security but the ones we put in today have firewalls and AP-based IPS installed. On top of that, we added another level of protection, technology from Aruba known as ClearPass Management System, an endpoint security solution, for policy management and guest access. The network connectivity and access control allow us to easily authenticate user profiles and apply network policies across user devices and applications.

With that, we implemented policy management. More importantly, we can now track the device connected to us with more information about each connected device. If a device goes rogue, we can identify what it is and stop its connection.

Apart from providing connectivity, what other enhancements have you implemented to your campus networks?

Based on our wireless infrastructure, we've introduced two services to share our facilities with the community. On top of wireless, we have implemented specific location-based guest SSID. They wouldn't get access if they wander off particular areas. And the guest SSID has an expiry stamp.

Second is EDUROAM, an international roaming internet access service. A visitor from participating university can log into SMU's network using his or her own user ID and password, and the local network seeks authentication via the Internet back from their particular network servers.By doing this, we make it convenient and seamless to allow visitors to work almost immediately.

Our wireless networks, apart from being used for teaching and learning, is also for research and development. One example is in location tracking and consumer behaviour studies, where research on device utilisation, purchase patterns, and other studies could be done within the commercial zones. We segregate these "test" networks [within these areas] into another layer so that if we find their networks adversely affecting our campus network, we will shut theirs down to protect our campus network. The whole campus is now a live network for such a research.

Sounds like you have always had support from the very top.

 

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