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The growing demands of its students and professionals drive the University of Algarve to a radical makeover of one of its campus networks
Established in 1979, the University of Algarve is a young state university located in the southeastern part of Portugal. Since then it has acquired a sound international reputation and has witnessed a significant growth in its student population spurred by its modern facilities and the quality and diversity of the programmes it offers.
The University is spread over four campuses, the largest being Gambelas. As with any modern higher education institution, the performance of its IT network is crucial to its ongoing success. Students and professionals alike depend on it being available wherever they are, whenever they want and not having this accessibility can impact greatly on their educational performance.
It was with this in mind that the University of Algarve took the decision to carry out an extensive upgrade of the existing Gambelas campus network.
“We were conscious that the campus’ IT network was struggling to provide what our students wanted. Not only did we need to significantly increase the bandwidth available, we also wanted to build in ‘redundancy’ to make sure we could maintain service more effectively if things went wrong,” explains Joel Guerreiro, IT Director, University of Algarve.
Working with IT partner Visualforma, the University put out a formal tender request to all the major vendors. After testing each of the potential solutions over a period of four months it then selected Huawei’s S12708 Agile switch as the one which would best meet its very specific requirements. Joel Guerreiro continues:
“Huawei’s solution easily stood out as the best. It had clearly taken onboard what we were looking for and proposed a converged solution that would allow us to manage the whole of our network as one. Its track record as a Global IT solutions provider also gave us the confidence that we were making the right choice.”
Huawei’s high-capacity S12700 series agile switches are designed specifically for next-generation campus networks. Using a fully programmable switching architecture, they allow fast and flexible customisation and support a smooth evolution to software-defined networking (SDN). The S12700 series uses the Huawei Ethernet Network Processor (ENP) and a native wireless access controller (AC) to enable the creation of a converged wired and wireless network.
“Price was not the biggest issue for us and was pretty much comparable across all the vendors. However, the Huawei solution does offer more functionality. The wireless management console, in particular, was something we really wanted,” adds Joel Guerreiro.
The University decided to complete the installation and changeover from the old network themselves. This was done with full support from Huawei, who provided all the necessary training to do this and was on hand 24/7 to give help and support where it was needed. The task was made easier by Huawei’s use of standard protocols rather than the proprietary ones favoured by other vendors.
With greatly increased bandwidth and high performance wi-fi available across the Gambelas campus and its accommodation areas, students now have the level of network access they need. This means they will be able to take full advantage of new desktop hosting and cloud based services that are being planned, greatly boosting the effectiveness of their studies. The University’s professionals are also benefiting in the same way.
“Since we installed the new network nearly a year ago, we’ve had really good feedback from our users. There’s no doubt we’ve been able to reduce our costs as we need less people to manage it and the almost zero downtime and redundancy has helped make everything a lot more efficient.
“We don’t have the level of capital expenditure we had with the old network and it’s very satisfying to know that everything will be paid for in just three years. This makes the business case for upgrading the other campuses very simple,” concludes Joel Guerroeiro.
Although this is the first time the University of Algarve has worked with Huawei, its experience and the success of the project has already encouraged further cooperation and development of a wider strategic relationship in the area of research and development.
With the implementation of a Huawei Academy students are now able to learn about Huawei network technologies with the aim of becoming a Huawei certified professional and opening up job opportunities for the future. It has also given the University a way of differentiating itself in the increasingly competitive higher education market, as it is able to offer technical courses that others cannot.
Huawei Enterprise Business Group (“Huawei Enterprise”) is one of the three business groups of Huawei, a leading global Information and Communications Technology (ICT) solutions provider. Leveraging Huawei’s strong R&D capabilities and comprehensive technical expertise, Huawei Enterprise provides a wide range of highly efficient customer-centric ICT solutions and services to global vertical industry and enterprise customers across government and public sector, finance, transportation, electric power, energy, commercial businesses, and ISPs. Huawei Enterprise’s innovative and leading solutions cover network infrastructure, Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C), cloud computing & data center, enterprise information security, and industry application solutions.
For more information, please visit: e.huawei.com/uk
The University of Algarve is a Portuguese public university with administrative and financial autonomy. It has four campuses, two of which are located in Faro, the capital city of the Algarve region.
The University has nearly 10,000 students, employs over 700 academics and has accommodation blocks of over 600 bedrooms. It has three faculties and four schools, offering a range of quality undergraduate and postgraduate courses in a beautiful academic setting. It is an important center for cultural, scientific and technological development, with strong regional, national and international ties, offering students the opportunity to explore various careers as they gain transferable skills.
For more information, please visit: ualg.pt
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