Even before the frequency of remote and hy-flex learning greatly increased, many institutions were trying to keep pace with students’ growing technology requirements and network demands. From computers, smartphones, and iPads to gaming systems and video streaming, campuses can quickly be overloaded with the number of students and faculty connecting their devices to the network. In an Educause 2022 Students and Technology Report, unstable internet connections were among the top technology challenges stated by college students, with 35 percent saying this issue caused them stress. With these quickly expanding needs, existing networks may struggle to meet the demand of increasingly mobile students and staff.
Among the institutions facing this challenge was Edge member, Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU). Having a greater number of students and staff looking to connect to their network for both personal and educational use, FDU knew they had to revisit their current technology strategy and determine how to update the approach to address both present and future needs. “We wanted to enable our students and staff to use technology, collaborate with other universities, and utilize external services at higher data rates,” explains Michael Reekie, Director of Networking, FDU. “We also wished to alleviate any of the bottlenecks in our current environment that could potentially slow down the user experience.”
Fairleigh Dickinson University
As FDU began to explore solutions to better manage network traffic and plan for the future, they first looked at installing traffic shapers at the Internet edge. This bandwidth management technique can be very useful in decreasing congestion, however, the cost and maintenance of these devices can be expensive, especially as bandwidth increases. Instead, FDU chose to upgrade their connection to the Edge optical fiber network, EdgeNet, from 2x 10 Gbps to 2x 100 Gbps—making them the first institution in New Jersey to connect to EdgeNet at this advanced speed. “We found that increasing our bandwidth and installing faster Internet edge routers and firewalls would be a more cost-effective investment and could provide a better user experience for our students and faculty,” says Reekie.
“Along with updating our core, we also upgraded our wireless and Internet edge to meet the upcoming demands of the new wireless capabilities,” Reekie continues. “Making the jump to 2x 100 Gbps will help us meet our bandwidth requirements over the next several years, and with Edge as an existing partner, it was a very easy transition to upgrade our existing connections, while still allowing a highly available networking experience. Edge was able to provide bandwidth to us at a better cost and value than installing technologies that would shape the use of Internet traffic.”
With a focus on promoting student and faculty success and opening the door to more future-forward opportunities, Neal Sturm, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, FDU, says they are committed to providing a superior level of network accessibility and connectivity. “This recent upgrade has not only created a more cost-efficient operating model, but will also help enhance the educational experience and better accommodate incoming students as the University continues to grow in the coming years.”
“Along with updating our core, we also upgraded our wireless and Internet edge to meet the upcoming demands of the new wireless capabilities. Making the jump to 2x 100 Gbps will help us meet our bandwidth requirements over the next several years, and with Edge as an existing partner, it was a very easy transition to upgrade our existing connections, while still allowing a highly available networking experience. Edge was able to provide bandwidth to us at a better cost and value than installing technologies that would shape the use of Internet traffic.”
– Michael Reekie
Director of Networking
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Similarly to FDU, Rutgers University began to explore solutions for increasing their bandwidth capacity to better meet student and staff needs and improve the overall user experience. Over the past several years, Rutgers and Edge have been well partnered with network services and collocate in data centers located in Philadelphia and Newark. Edge also provides the University with their guest wireless network Internet service. As part of their traffic optimization strategy, Rutgers chose to receive internet services directly from Edge, and at the end of 2022, Rutgers became the second institution in New Jersey to connect to EdgeNet network services at an advanced speed of 100 Gbps.
Despite initial supply chain issues, Edge helped Rutgers secure the hardware for the upgrade and successfully completed the migration in less than four months. “Edge has been our trusted partner for over two decades,” shares Adrienne Esposito, Director of Network Operations and Architecture, Rutgers University. “It was an easy decision to move one of our commodity internet 100Gb links to Edge. The cutover was seamless, and the move resulted in annual savings.” Through this network enhancement, Rutgers not only benefits from a reliable peering infrastructure with reduced latency that optimizes network performance, but they can also leverage the peering connection to Internet2 and a direct connection to the AWS cloud infrastructure.
“Edge has been our trusted partner for over two decades. It was an easy decision to move one of our commodity internet 100Gb links to Edge. The cutover was seamless, and the move resulted in annual savings.”
– Adrienne Esposito
Director of Network Operations and Architecture
EdgeNet’s direct connection to AWS can help speed migrations to the Cloud, allow a smooth and efficient flow of research data, and deliver a secure transit of data connections. To minimize service disruptions, all traffic entering the Edge network is monitored and any issues are mitigated to ensure the EdgeNet core and all connected members remain protected.
The transition from a commodity internet provider to EdgeNet and the network’s advanced layer 3 service capability allow for member-to-member connectivity and will support institutions like FDU and Rutgers as they continue to grow and enhance their education and research initiatives. In addition to meeting the growing data and network demands of students and faculty, the need for high-speed research and collaboration continues to rise across the higher education community. Having a network that facilitates these national and global connections will be an essential factor in driving innovation and discovery forward and giving current and incoming students a superior educational experience.
To learn more about how the high-performance network, EdgeNet, can help your institution step into the future, visit njedge.net/solutions-overview/network-connectivity-and-internet2.