Oakhill School partners with Khipu Networks to support wireless BYOD strategy

Saturday 4th April, 2015

Challenge: To provide secure ‘user-friendly’ wireless access for Staff, Students and Guests whilst not compromising security. • Solution: Aruba Networks controller based solution with high performance access points, fully integrated with Clearpass Policy Manager Radius solution. • Results: A wireless and authentication service, that is: Easy to use, Robust, Scalable, Fast, Secure and cutting edge. Founded in 1990 by a group of forward thinking parents, Oakhill sought to establish a school that expressed the “joy in learning” and placed the student at the center of an integrated curriculum. Oakhill’s first few months were spent in a unit in a local shopping mall and catered for students ranging from 6 years to 16 years. In 1992 the school moved to its existing location on the hillside above Knysna, Eastern Cape, South Africa. At the start of 2009, Shane Kidwell took over the leadership to initiate what will be an exciting new era for Oakhill. Today Oakhill has more than 520 pupils from Grade 000 to Grade 12 and is growing steadily in reputation and numbers. Oakhill School is continually improving its facilities – from the classroom to the sports fields. In 2013 the school acquired a new Oakhill Sports Campus and now stands proud with its first phase complete, comprising a state-of-the-art water-based Astroturf, as well as rugby, soccer, cricket and netball fields. Recent building developments on the campus include a new Music Department and major upgrade to the Art and Drama Department including six new classrooms.

In early 2013 the school approached its IT support company with a challenge:

To advise them on the best path to take in a venture to provide secure wireless access to Staff, Student and Guests. The schools’ main goal was to provide ‘blanket’ coverage indoors so no matter where users were and no matter what devices they were connecting with, they would have access. Not just access but secure role-based access depending on who is logged in. Together with wireless coverage, the school wanted to be sure who was using the wireless, when, how much and what URLs and applications were being accessed. The solution needed to be a high quality, cost effective, scalable and easy to manage system. “We didn’t just want to provide wireless access for school owned devices but access for Staff and Student owned devices as well. The combination of Khipu Networks and Aruba Networks gave us the fast, secure and reliable wireless infrastructure Staff, Students and Guests had been asking for.” Shane Kidwell, Headmaster, Oakhill School The school’s IT support company, a locally run venture to Knysna called Networkwise, approached Khipu Networks South Africa as the ‘wireless expert’ for this project.

Khipu Networks has extensive experience with its wireless offering Aruba Networks, having deployed solutions in over 400 educational institutions world-wide. Khipu Networks together with Aruba Networks deployed a controller based Wireless System together with Aruba Clearpass RADIUS server, enabling easy access and ‘1 time’ authentication using the latest security standards. This enables the use of ‘Apple Air’ services to seamlessly project classroom material from a teacher’s device to the student devices. Not only does the school know who is using the wireless, they also know what each user is doing on the wireless. What this means is that the school’s IT team can easily identify users that are abusing the Wifi and take remedial action.

“Being an education institution, it is of utmost importance that we provide a wireless service to the Students that is both secure and safe that enhances the learning experience”.

Jaco Smit, MD, Networkwise.

When a user authenticates to the wireless, Clearpass Policy manager checks the school’s Active Directory services for user information and then provides network access based upon the user’s role coming back from AD. If a user does not have a valid Staff, Student or Guest account, they are not allowed onto the wireless therefore avoiding the security risks of pre-shared keys. This solution frees up IT administration time by taking care of some of the more time consuming jobs like Guest Provisioning. “Together with Aruba Networks, Khipu Networks has provided us with a system that helps enhance the slow ISP services we are faced with in South Africa at present. We are now able to identify users and applications that are adversely affecting the network and have the visibility and control of users and content”. Andries de Beer, Network technician, Oakhill School “The process of finding a wireless partner was surprisingly easy”, says Jaco Smit. “Khipu Networks understood what we needed and understood we had a tight budget. Being an ISASA (Independent School Association of South Africa) member, we had easy access to Khipu Networks’ capabilities and customer references. They were quick to do an RF survey and provided us with a proposal of what we needed to make this project a success”. “Our partnership with Oakhill School has provided the students with Enterprise grade technology to help enhance the forward thinking experience the school is trying to provide for the learners. As a company Khipu Networks is happy to be involved”. Gareth Trollip, Technical manager, Khipu Networks South Africa