DES: Expanding Wireless Network Access at Catholic University of Eastern Africa

  • Posted on: 20 May 2018
  • By: admin

Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) is among the 30 private Universities in Kenya and has been a KENET member for more than a decade. Among the connectivity services that KENET members enjoy is Direct Engineering Support (DES), an initiative that seeks to enhance the institution’s staff implementation of transformational changes to ICT resources and Infrastructure. In bid to improve their ICT service delivery, CUEA requested KENET to conduct DES which was executed on 30 April to 7 May 2018.

Three KENET engineers visited the University to configure, replace and install ICT hardware- mainly switches and access points, to ensure improved network coverage, performance and scalability. They also set up network monitoring tools for easier network troubleshooting.  KENET donated five cisco switches, five cisco access points and six Unifi access points to the University to enable them to improve wireless coverage and enhance scalability of the core network. The team configured and assisted in deployment of the donated switches and access points.  

CUEA’s Local Area Network (LAN) had been segmented into numerous Virtual LANS (VLANs), each with a unique IP address block to ensure traffic separation across the LAN. The VLAN implementation was audited and recommendations provided. In addition, eduroam was setup at the institution. Eduroam is a secure world-wide access service that allows members of Institutions to obtain wireless internet connectivity while on Campus and while visiting other participating institutions. KENET offers eduroam as part of its connectivity service. To ensure that eduroam was fully implemented, KENET engineers configured and tested a RADIUS authentication and accounting server at CUEA.

Another key achievement during the DES was successful installation and configuration of network monitoring tools, Nagios and Cacti. Although the KENET Network Operations Centre (NOC) monitors its core network on a 12/7 basis, these monitoring tools enable the ICT team at the Institution to monitor real-time availability of their LAN devices including routers, switches, servers and printers, and aid in monitor bandwidth utilization across various sections of the LAN.

Winding up the week-long activities, the KENET team made recommendations to the CUEA ICT team on best practices to improve the users’ browsing experience. To help CUEA achieve this, KENET committed to conduct a network audit, and donate additional campus network equipment. Although further LAN restructuring including replacement of the existing gateway with the newly setup pfSense firewall and reorganization of the existing VLANs is required, the new LAN setup is scalable and guarantees high speed internet access across campus.

The successful exercise has since improved user experience as users from different VLANs could browse and connect to the various University resources such as the ERP. WIFI coverage has been greatly improved at key departments such as the library.

 “It was a rewarding experience working with the dedicated ICT team at CUEA and am looking forward to future projects that will ensure a resilient and efficient LAN that will meet the ever-growing demand for high speed internet access by students and faculty,” recounts John Saruni, one of KENET engineers.