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The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff intends to be one of the nation's most technologically advanced campuses. To achieve that goal, it has equipped its entire 141-acre campus to be wireless LAN-enabled, providing access to all of its 3,100 students and 900 faculty members.
The university also wants to ensure the security of information sent across that network and use it to generate revenue through additional services it can sell to students and teachers on a subscription basis.
That's why the campus is serving as a beta site for Computer Associates' Wireless Site Management product, which was unveiled Monday at CAWorld 2004 in Las Vegas, says Maurice Ficklin, the university's CIO and director of technical services.
"Education is a very competitive environment, and we want to attract the top students and faculty," Ficklin said. "We wanted to provide the latest technology but could see there were many challenges."
The wireless LAN access points on campus will need to be maintained regularly, and he wanted automated configuration, performance monitoring, and encryption deployment.
With grand schemes to eventually provide access to the entire city of Pine Bluff's 57,000 residences, Ficklin believes Wireless Site Management can help him manage the wireless LAN network and enhance revenue opportunities.
The campus is also issuing wireless LAN-enabled cell phones to its student body and plans to begin offering value-added services that can create a new revenue stream for the university, he said.
Another Wireless Site Management beta customer is Universal Health Services Inc., a health-care management company with 35,000 employees at 105 facilities in 24 states as well as Puerto Rico and France.
"We can see that we can't possibly provide quality health care without getting to the patient's bedside," Universal Health CIO Linda Reino said. "But I can't have people from the local university hopping onto my wireless backbone."
With accelerating growth of wireless technology in the enterprise, CA believes its Wireless Site Management product can help address many of the management and security issues.
A key feature is automatic wireless LAN discovery and prevention of rogue users and devices. Wireless Site Management identifies all wireless LAN infrastructure components, along with their physical locations, enabling administrators to identify and disable any rogue devices, said Yogesh Gupta, CA's chief technology officer.
Many system administrators recommend changing wireless LAN encryptions at least once a day--a large undertaking for a campus with dozens or hundreds of access points. Wireless Site Management can automatically generate, distribute, rotate, and synchronize Wired Equivalent Privacy keys, Gupta said.
In addition, Wireless Site Management enables administrators to visualize wireless LAN site-access parameters on a location map and specifically define areas where the company's wireless network can be used--and areas where it can't.
Gupta said beta customers will determine when Wireless Site Management will be released for general availability, but that's usually within two to three months.