Recently, companies and schools have been forced to switch to remote workplace and learning environments. This crisis is a reminder that organizations should always be prepared to go remote.

We are taking this opportunity to share Logicalis subject matter expert Paul Anderson’s insights into why remote access points are important to schools and businesses.

What challenges do you see companies facing during the COVID-19 pandemic?

My overall impression from talking with different customers and some of our sellers in the industry right now is that they are asking if their users are able to work remotely from home.

It’s not just a matter of having a Wi-Fi capability, but about having enough bandwidth speed. We are also working with them on the security aspects of those working from home, because most everyone can jump on a network and get going, but they may not have the right security and the solutions to map back to the infrastructure. We’re seeing that a lot of companies today, especially within the healthcare and educational areas, have outdated areas in their infrastructure or don’t have the infrastructure to support and grow to meet demands.

What are some of the different challenges you see K-12 schools facing during the pandemic compared to businesses?

I would say a few areas will overlap. The biggest concern is security, now that you have more students working from home. There is a big security issue concerning where those users can go on and what they can access. Students also need the capability to complete their school work from home, using the right setup and the infrastructure, as well as the knowledge to use it too. Every kid knows how to get on, but when you go to their learning capabilities, that’s where there are gaps.

Do you see different challenges with colleges and universities?

At a college level, you would see the same issues, except that maybe their infrastructure is more adaptable and you can scale quicker with what they have on-site. And they have more flexibility, because you have online universities. Traditional brick-and-mortar schools, now that they need to use Wi-Fi capabilities, are facing the same challenges with security and mobility and how they create a software-defined foundation within those areas.

Why are remote access points the right solution for schools in particular?

The usefulness of remote access points depends on where the students are, where access points can be located, and how to use them. Today, a lot of students will be using remote access points because they’re all working from home. Wayfinding, and the different ways that works within the schools, is important — especially with Aruba — as well as how those access points can be used by on-site students and guests and how it scales within their environment.

When you walk onto a campus today, most students ask: Where am I going to access the network? How do I get there? Wayfinding is important because a lot of people bring their own devices to campus to use those access points. Wayfinding guides that student through the campus or wherever they may need to go.

How about for K through 12?

It would be the same thing in K through 12. You could also limit the students’ access to an access point in the classroom, unless you’re using a mobile classroom and the students need to go everywhere. Most classrooms today are going to be friendly environments where there’s no fixed positioning. It’s not, “I have a chalkboard in front of me.” Everything is mobile. So it depends where the students go: from that classroom to the next classroom or into the computer lab.

What about in this specific context of having to do e-Learning from home? How does remote access help with that?

The e-Learning is going to be able to define the remote access, depending on the curriculum and the schools and how they set it up. What is on the wireless and private network depends on what access you’d want the students to be able to go to.

A lot of the schools in Arizona are giving out Chromebooks to students, but they’re also carrying out rapid deployment. With dynamic segmentation and role-based policies, that helps set up students where they need to go.

How might these issues be different for businesses?

It would actually cover the same type of areas. You would just have to click from your business environment. Depending on where employees are, they would need to maintain connectivity so they can work in remote environments. A lot of the solutions are mapped over the same areas, such as in healthcare. It’s just how you deliver your content.

In areas like healthcare, security is important, especially for the guest who is on your network and should only be able to access part of your network. A lot of Aruba products are going to work within areas with wireless capabilities and IoT, and thanks to the way it works, you’re looking at what is on the wireless network.

On a private network, you have heart pumps, you have monitors, you have controlled ventilators, IV drip machines. All these things are very important. The question is: How do you secure them? How do you want them on the network so you can get the quickest access?

You’ve been saying a lot about security. What makes remote access points particularly strong as far as security goes?

Everyone’s network, whether it be internal or external, must be secure from the edge to the core. Organizations must define what areas are most valuable and how to protect them. Everything should be 100% secure through secure mobility and a software-defined foundation.

Starting on day one, you need to ask: What devices need to have access? Who needs to have control? What policies do you have in place? The rapid deployment part of it would be there, but if you don’t have internal policies on how you protect your customers and your employees, it doesn’t matter how quickly access points work.

Could you say a little bit about how remote access points function?

I can tell you that the rapid deployment part of it adapts and scales to the customer environment. Remote access points are flexible, simplified, secure, and mobile.

Again, we’ve talked a lot about security. What are some of the other top benefits of remote access points?

An access point is an access point; your network needs to be secure. A lot of people think of access points as the little wireless things on your ceiling at your work or in the hallways.

Some of the areas that customers need to look into are related to the software that’s in the environment and how to secure it from the edge to the core. Some of the product lines, such as HPE ClearPath or Aruba IntroSpect, define your network traffic and what’s on it, what’s going on, and what’s coming at it, and set role-based policies around that.

Again, we’ve talked a lot about security. What are some of the other top benefits of remote access points?

There are a lot of great solutions out there, but compared to its competitors, Aruba has a lot more open policies on their products and they adapt to infrastructure, especially for education and healthcare. For example, ClearPath is software that will run on any of the competitors’ products out there, especially Cisco’s, to help with some of the security software issues. And it’s built to last with a lifetime warranty. It just depends on the environment that it’s going into, but we see its benefits in schools, healthcare organizations, and higher education institutions.

What value does Logicalis bring to Aruba solutions?

We are one of the HPE Platinum partners in the area. As a Platinum network provider, we approach customers not just from a hardware aspect but also through managed and professional services to help healthcare, manufacturing, retail, government, and education organizations. We do more than supply the product. We also help clients deploy a product, and before we get into the product, we find where the bottlenecks are and help eliminate them. We can supply these customers with servers and storage for a complete solution.

Logicalis is here to help. Reach out today to discuss your networking needs.