Case Study

The Student Bubble

Enabling the “home from home” student experience without compromising security or complicating network access

The Challenge

St John’s College, University of Cambridge, objective was to be the first institution in Cambridge to create a “home from home” network environment so that their users could connect “any” device with no (or minimal) intervention from IT staff and without compromising security of the college’s environment. This was a key challenge as whatever method they chose, it had to ensure:

  1. Users could connect easily without any complex time consuming hurdles
  2. Staff time wouldn’t be exhausted in getting devices connected to the network
  3. It was secure and safe for the users, their devices and the college

The Implications

Without having a level of security and making the connection process simple would result in the following implications:

  • If connected, user devices (i.e. MDNS/Bonjour) would be accessible to anyone without any control or security
  • Failure to offer a simple method to connect any device and meet modern expectations, creates poor student feedback, complaints and damage to reputation
  • Student complaints / issues = increase in help desk calls and IT staff time consumed

The Solution

Simon Mallows at the College, worked with the KHIPU team in creating the “student bubble” experience utilising Aruba’s airgroup and Clearpass RADIUS NAC solution across its entire network.

“As we have no idea what devices our users will bring to the college, we have to ensure our service is capable of supporting any type of device – even ones that are not capable of 802.1x authentication. We have a very lean IT team here, so automation and security is key for us. Working with KHIPU in deploying Aruba’s Clearpass solution has enable us to meet all of our requirements for student, staff and visitor seamless network access”

“Students can connect “any” MDNS/Bonjour device to the college’s SSID (St Johns WiFi) or to the wired network and that device is still accessible to them if their mobile or laptop is connected to the onsite ‘eduroam’ service. Therefore they can use these devices immediately and securely, with seamless access – thus creating a home-from-home personal experience”

Simon Mallows, Assistance Computer Systems Manager


  • Delivers a consistent connection experience throughout the college – results in minimal help desk calls or IT staff intervention
  • Dynamically segregates different user groups and devices on the network e.g. students, fellows, staff, non-college eduroam users and visitors
  • Offers a “self-service” guest portal for visitors all year round and a B&B network during holiday periods for internet access


  • Automated self-service BYOD improves efficiencies and the user experience
  • Seamless WiFi access both indoor and outdoor for all user types
  • Singular view of the entire network for simplified management
  • Dynamic and granular role based access for users and devices for improved security and control
  • Seamless integration with other systems including Palo Alto Networks NextGen Firewalls for enhanced security and protection

Solution Deployed

  • Aruba WiFi access points and mobility controllers
  • Aruba Clearpass Policy Manager – RADIUS NAC*
  • HPE LAN switches
  • Aruba Airwave management
  • Palo Alto Networks NextGen Firewalls
  • KHIPU Professional Services: Design, installation and commissioning
  • KHIPU Support / Maintenance Services

“Ensuring the best possible user experience is a key requirement for student satisfaction. Our simple process enables any ‘allowed’ user device to connect to our network securely and seamlessly. The Clearpass service has been in place since September 2016 and the firewalls were added in August 2018. We continually improve and develop it based upon user feedback. It’s been a huge success for the College’s IT team based upon our satisfied and smiling students”

Sue Rogers, IT Director, St John’s College, University of Cambridge

*Note: Clearpass is manufacturer independent

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Please contact the KHIPU team for more information or complete this form.


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