Stanford University's Gates Building, the home of Stanford's Computer Science department, is a 150,000 sq. ft. facility teeming with hundreds of brainy technophiles. Needless to say, the wireless network is in high demand.
Miles Davis, the department's IT Director, said the department has a challenging network environment including students, faculty, staff, visitors, and even experimental robotic devices.
"We've got robots on their own network drops, along with a campus network for people who come in and out of the building all day," said Davis. "We also have people who work in the building and have wireless devices that must work all the time."
As more students started carrying mobile devices with them everywhere, faculty complained that their WiFi connections were getting dropped in the big, crowded lecture halls. Davis decided to overhaul the legacy network to improve reliability and performance, but he didn't want to spend a lot of time deploying or managing the new network.
Cisco Meraki access points (APs) provide reliable, high-density lecture hall coverage, while the cloud-based network management promised to be a time-saver. Seamless firmware updates from the cloud and automatic RF optimization simplify daily maintenance further, a big plus for Davis's lean IT staff.
Davis deployed Meraki APs across the Gates Building in only four hours. He spent 30 minutes configuring the network: creating virtual isolated networks for researchers, staff, and students, using Rogue AP Detection to secure the network, and setting up Event Logging to save time providing help desk support. The rest of the time he spent physically mounting the APs on walls throughout the building.
Now more than 2700 unique clients utilize the network every month, transferring 1.32 TB of data. Davis has such fine-grained visibility into his network that he knows that almost half of all clients on the network are Apple iPhones, but it's the Windows 7 clients that use 35% of the bandwidth.
The Meraki deployment in the Gates Building was so successful, the neighboring Packard Building, home of Stanford's Electrical Engineering department, also upgraded with Meraki. In addition, the Bing Stanford in Washington program utilizes Meraki APs to provide wireless for students and staff doing research in Washington D.C.
Meanwhile, Meraki's cloud management ensures that Davis can spend his time on the IT projects that really matter to him – like loading servers into the back of an off-road car that students are programming to drive itself across a desert. "Having a wireless network just work is kind of refreshing," he said.