Now in phase two of a complete upgrade of network technology, MidAmerica Nazarene University has chosen Sterling Computers Corporation to consult on, design and implement a world class network. The corporation is a leading provider of IT sales and services and specializes in government and education projects.

Sterling is connecting the new fiber installed in phase one of the upgrade, to new routers, switches and wireless access points in each of the 23 buildings on the Olathe campus, two buildings at Santa Fe Commons and the Liberty, Missouri building. The company will also implement a proactive monitoring solution and a next generation firewall for network security.

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Sterling will provide the implementation services and coordinate the project with all contractors. According to MNU Network Administrator Tony Parlato, this involves all the equipment that feeds wireless access points inside and outside the buildings. The upgrade is also an expansion that will result in nearly 50 percent more wireless access points on campus.

“With so many devices in use and the number of people using them in each building, we needed to increase wireless capacity for all our students,” Parlato says.

In addition to improving existing wireless performance, several areas of campus will gain Wifi coverage. Outdoor areas of the campus mall, the sand volleyball court and gazebo areas, walkways around several buildings and the press box at the baseball field are just some of the places where users will soon be able to access the Internet wirelessly.

Parlato says users will see a noticeable difference in reliable Internet connectivity as well as network performance.

“If an access point has issues now, IT gets notified when it fails,” he says. “The new system will see problematic issues before failure occurs and that means we can intervene first.”

Parlato cites the next generation firewall implementation as an important security upgrade. The firewall combines traditional functionality with intelligent network traffic inspection, intrusion prevention and advanced malware/virus protection to help block sophisticated attacks before they can enter MNU’s network.

Rob Foster, services manager for Sterling, says working with educational institutions is a significant part of his company’s business. “We are proud to have been chosen as the network implementation partner by MidAmerica Nazarene University and to have the opportunity to positively impact the teacher and student learning experience,” Foster says. “We anticipate that this project will be complete in late-April or early-May.”

Parlato says students, faculty and staff should not experience much if any downtime as each building is switched over to the new network because it is being built parallel to the existing network.

“The community will experience a noticeable difference in network coverage and speed,” he adds.

These activities are supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Title III Strengthening Institutions Program; 100% is federally-funded over the five-year project period.