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Today's universities all have one thing in common: abundant technology access. Students do a majority of their homework online. They can earn an education from anywhere thanks to virtual classrooms and universities. The use of video-conferencing and distance learning have also become increasingly common methods of communicating lesson plans or instruction.
With this rise in technology comes an increased need for network monitoring and security. An educational institution's technological resources would be worthless without a secure infrastructure. Student records could be hacked, bandwidth consumed, and online assignments left undone. There's no time for errors or outages when dealing with lesson plans, particularly in advanced fields like medicine or science, where video-conferencing is often critical to providing seamless and proper instruction.
As an example of this, The University of British Columbia knows just how important a secure, uninterrupted connection is for education. Their medical program assigns students to local hospitals and clinics in remote areas and provides instruction via video-conferencing. A reliable network connection is not just critical for lessons to go as planned, but it's also vital for classes to be delivered on time with a dependable network connection.
Related Content: What IT Leaders Need to Know About Education Technology
Challenges with network monitoring
While schools of all levels have a need to monitor their networks to ensure they are secure and reliable, universities are presented with some particularly unique challenges:
Wide Area Networks (WANs)
Unlike smaller schools or many organizations, most universities have an vast wide area network or "WAN." A university may have multiple campuses across town. Within those campuses there are many buildings and tens of thousands of students connecting to their network. This presents a huge challenge to IT teams tasked with monitoring wide area networks: the networks are simply too large and complex. It would be impossible to monitor this kind of network manually—there are too many devices and connections.
Monitoring wide area networks requires network monitoring software that can identify any problematic devices or connections and alert your team before they fail or cause outages.
Each of those many thousands of students might be using a different platform to connect to the university network. Some people have PCs, while others have Macs. They may use Linux, they may use their mobile device, or they may use a desktop computer at the library. A university's network has so many different types of devices trying to connect to it at all times that being able to effectively monitor university networks and provide up-to-date information is critical.
Another key factor for monitoring university networks is budget. Most universities don’t necessarily have a large budget for IT spending, even as the need to monitor their infrastructure becomes more important than ever with the increase in virtual classrooms and distance learning. When budgets are a concern, it’s crucial to find a competitively priced (or free) network monitoring tool that can still scale to monitor the largest, most complex networks... without breaking the bank.
With so many students accessing a university’s network, bandwidth usage can easily be exceeded and cause slowdowns or outages if it’s not being monitored. Universities should implement flows monitoring solutions that can provide granular traffic analysis on traffic flowing through and across their network. If necessary, they can also look into a way to provide content filtering so that certain sites that use up excessive bandwidth can be blocked or prevented
Related Content: How Tech-Driven Schools Survive and Thrive
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Why IT teams in education love Intermapper
As a reliable, user-friendly network mapping, monitoring, and alerting tool, Intermapper can effectively monitor large area networks—including all your campuses and locations—for less than many tools on the market. (It's even free to get started.)
Intermapper is a cross-platform, vendor-agnostic solution, meaning it works with disparate platforms and systems to monitor each device, regardless of its type. Intermapper can scan wide area networks, monitor all your devices in real-time, and alert you when bandwidth thresholds are about to be exceeded. That's why Intermapper is perfect for colleges or universities looking for an affordable yet powerful way to monitor their networks.
With Intermapper, you can set specific thresholds for numerous factors—like bandwidth—and receive alerts when those thresholds are exceeded. You can also take a closer look at the types of traffic flowing across and through your network with Intermapper Flows.
Monitor large networks with Intermapper or parcel out smaller subnets of your network. If you purchase a license to monitor 1500 devices, for example, and have over 5000, you can rotate the devices being monitored. If any of those devices drop, Intermapper will pick up the next 20 to replace it. This way, you can monitor minute details of a large area network in batches, while still keeping a watchful eye on the health of the network as a whole.
Network teams in higher education love how user-friendly, reliable, and intuitive Intermapper is. Download Intermapper and monitor 500 devices free for 30 days.