Achieving a connected and secure digital environment at the Victoria University City Campus

28 Jun 2023

Australia’s largest vertical campus

Established in 1916, Victoria University (VU) is a public university that is one of only six dual-sector universities in Australia providing both higher education and Technical and Further Education (TAFE) to over 40,000 students.

VU has 6 campuses spread across Melbourne and western suburbs, one campus in Sydney and one campus in Brisbane. As part of its multimillion-dollar project to consolidate five locations in the Melbourne CBD, VU built and opened its state-of-the-art facility, the VU City Tower at its City Campus.

Building a digitally enabled campus to support its vision

As part of VU’s vision to be open and excellent, creating exceptional value for its students and uplifting the community in which the University operates, building a connected, digitised and smart campus was essential. Below were some of the objectives that VU wanted to achieve with its new City Campus.

  • Automate, self-manage and simplify IT troubleshooting processes.
  • Deliver next generation network services including the routing, switching and wireless solutions.
  • Improve network resilience, operational efficiency and security.
  • Maximise student engagement and retention.
  • Support a range of digital services for students, staff and industry partners.

“When you get an opportunity to start from scratch, you want to take that up to drive something new,” said Nitin Singh, Acting Executive Director, Information Technology Services at Victoria University.

Transforming objectives to outcomes through technology

VU required a technological partner to help deploy enterprise networking solutions for its modern infrastructure.

“This is a very complex building. We have 410 access points, 250 switches, and thousands of student devices coming through the campus,” mentioned Travis McIntosh, Network Engineer, Victoria University.

After a competitive tender process, VU engaged Telstra Purple, Australia’s largest technology services business, and Cisco to help build them a truly digital and world-class campus network.

“We chose Cisco’s Software-defined access network architecture to future proof our University and we chose Telstra Purple as our enablement partner. We were really impressed with the type of team, skills and approach they brought to the table, in terms of the delivery of this particular project,” explained Nitin.

Telstra Purple and Cisco worked with the VU’s IT team to support the deployment and design validation.

“Our team felt more confident in working with Telstra Purple’s technical experts to not only leverage what they were telling us but at the same time, they also allowed us to get our own hands dirty in the same technology. And that’s where Telstra Purple really shine,” said Nitin.

Built on Local Area Network (LAN) Architecture, Cisco’s Software-Defined Access (SDA) used Software Defined Networking (SDN) with physical network devices. This enabled policy-based automation capabilities from edge to cloud including:

  • Automated user and device policies for any application
  • End-to-end segmentation
  • Zero-trust security across all users and devices

“We decided to do the SDA deployment because its scalable, secure, and easy to manage. The magic thing about this network is that we are able to manage it through a single pane of glass. There are more analytics, so it’s much easier for our support teams to assist the client on the first point of call,” specified Travis.

A digitised, future-ready and technologically advanced campus

The successful deployment of Cisco SDN led by Telstra Purple helped improve and simplify VU’s IT operations as it automated several processes like device provisioning, issue identification and policy updates and offered better security, transparency and visibility across the campus.

“We have seen a shift in where we need to enable security policies and access - from 10 days in a traditional network environment versus a couple of hours here with the SDA network. We can now provide network access to our students, teachers and partners, seamlessly and securely,” stated Nitin.

The solution provided better device security and consistent user experience across the City Campus and from remote locations. It also helped to reduce the network management complexity and improve cyber threat management and visibility.

“It was a big vision and the genius of Telstra Purple breaking it down these work packages meant that we were able to achieve these little goals and when the university opened, we had this amazing network. As I walk through the building now, I feel so proud of what we achieved. This was a very ambitious build,” described Travis.

“As a collective team, working with Cisco and Telstra Purple, I couldn’t have been any prouder that we have been able to deliver this project within the budget effectively and seamlessly. And the experience and technologies over here are phenomenal,” concluded Nitin.

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