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Kent State University Standardizes on Aruba ESP Network to Power Current and Future Academic, Research and Residential Experiences

New Unified Network is Foundational to Meeting Leading Public Research Institution’s Rapidly Evolving Needs

Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company (NYSE: HPE), today announced that Kent State University, based in Kent, Ohio, is standardizing on an end-to-end Aruba ESP network. The leading public research institution is deploying Aruba technology throughout its eight-campus system to provide exceptional connectivity experiences for its approximately 35,000 students and 5,000 faculty and staff members.

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A leading public research institution, Kent State University is deploying Aruba technology throughout its eight-campus system to support approximately 35,000 students and 5,000 faculty and staff members. (Photo: Kent State University)

A leading public research institution, Kent State University is deploying Aruba technology throughout its eight-campus system to support approximately 35,000 students and 5,000 faculty and staff members. (Photo: Kent State University)

To power today’s academic, research and residential innovations, while meeting the swiftly-changing expectations of its campus communities during the years ahead, Kent State is deploying Aruba’s wired, wireless, management and security solutions. “We needed a reliable, secure high-performance network that could evolve rapidly,” explained John Rathje, vice president of IT and CIO at Kent State.

“With Aruba, we can continuously modernize our network, which helps ensure we can deliver the best possible user experiences across a full spectrum of present and future activities,” he added. “This includes the new HoloAnatomy-enabled augmented reality laboratory at our College of Podiatric Medicine, ScreenBeam content sharing platform in general instructional spaces, our growing esports program, and whatever comes next.”

For its future-ready infrastructure, Kent State is adopting a wireless network comprised of Aruba’s Wi-Fi 6 indoor and outdoor access points (APs) and mobility controllers. “Aruba’s combination of proven technologies was a key factor in our decision,” said Jim Raber, Executive Director of Support, Infrastructure, and Research Technology at Kent State.

“It’s critical to provide home-like experiences in our residences, regardless of the devices students bring, and Aruba’s AirGroup will help enable that,” he continued. “Other vendors were just coming to market with a solution, but Aruba has been refining AirGroup for a decade.”

On the wired side, the institution is implementing Aruba’s CX Series switches from edge to core, achieving efficiencies, gaining significant automation capabilities and controlling costs. “Previously, our wired network was vendor-neutral, which frequently meant contacting multiple sources to troubleshoot a single problem,” said Michael Geist, manager of Network and Telecommunications at Kent State.

“By standardizing on Aruba, we have a single pane of glass and a single partner with an incredibly responsive support team,” he added. “Plus, licensing is streamlined and all-inclusive, rather than requiring separate licenses to get the various features we need.”

Kent State will also rely on Aruba’s advanced network administration tools. This includes ClearPass, for unified wired and wireless network access control (NAC) and policy management; NetEdit for coordinating switch configuration, monitoring and troubleshooting; and User Experience Insight (UXI) for Wi-Fi incident detection using AIOps to pinpoint issues that require immediate attention.

“Using Aruba’s tools, we’re realizing significant operational savings while also providing students with educational opportunities,” said Raber. “Just one example is switch deployment. With NetEdit, a student can securely configure and deploy a switch in a half hour. Previously, it required an experienced full-time engineer three hours.”

Moving ahead, Kent State looks forward to adopting and leveraging other Aruba solutions. These include Location Services for a variety of data-driven initiatives, and Aruba Central for advanced AP and switch management. Using Central’s advanced AIOps, Kent State can automate the identification and resolution of user, IoT and network issues before they impact people and devices. This equates to significant reductions in trouble tickets and IT overhead, as well as associated improvements in campus experiences.

“We’ve recently deployed Central for a remote learning location and expect to expand it across our footprint,” said Geist. “Our team is very excited about exploring Central’s AIOps capabilities for making deployments and day-to-day network administration faster and more efficient.”

According to Rathje, the value of Kent State’s new network is foundational the university’s strategy and essential to delivering digital experiences for its users. “Beyond just having a network, we wanted to align our IT missions across the institution to support and enhance user experiences,” he said. “After undergoing an extensive evaluation, we determined Aruba’s vision, engagement and the inter-operability of all its solutions throughout the network layers made it the right partner for us.”

Rathje, Raber and Geist will be speaking at Educause, on October 27th from 2:15 – 3 p.m. ET on the topic of “Creating a Flexible and Scalable Network Foundation to Drive Experiences and Innovation” in which they will share their best practices and lessons learned on the recent technology transformation they oversaw at Kent State.

Additional Resources

About Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company

Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, is the global leader in secure, intelligent edge-to-cloud networking solutions that use AI to automate the network, while harnessing data to drive powerful business outcomes. With Aruba ESP (Edge Services Platform) and as-a-service options, Aruba takes a cloud-native approach to helping customers meet their connectivity, security, and financial requirements across campus, branch, data center, and remote worker environments, covering all aspects of wired, wireless LAN, and wide area networking (WAN).

To learn more, visit Aruba at For real-time news updates, follow Aruba on Twitter and Facebook, and for the latest technical discussions on mobility and Aruba products, visit the Airheads Community at


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