Technology has become an important part of our lives, disrupting every aspect from how we communicate to how we commute, play and work. Undoubtedly, this wave of change brought on by technology has also touched the higher education sector, with investments and adoption of new and advanced technologies seeing a rapid rise in recent years.
These advancements enable higher education institutions, such as colleges and universities, to significantly increase efficiencies in many ways, improve the effectiveness of their processes and make life much easier for students as well as staff.
The Xiamen University Campus in Sepang, a federal constituency in Selangor, Malaysia, is a fantastic example of a university that has embraced technology in holistic fashion through state-of-the-art facilities and innovation.
In 2015, Xiamen University Malaysia was the first Chinese university to open a campus overseas. The university provides a huge range of full-time undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the fields of literature, business, science, engineering, and medicine.
The campus itself covers 150 acres, with a floor area of 470,000 square meters.
After many years of construction and development, over 5,000 students have enrolled at this campus, which has magnificent architecture and complete facilities. In terms of ICT construction and operations and maintenance (O&M), the campus has high requirements on network capacity, indoor wireless coverage, high-bandwidth access, and its advanced data centre.
Meeting Modern Connectivity Requirements
Starting from the construction as a new and unique Chinese higher education institution outside of China, the university's focus was on creating a stable and reliable information infrastructure for both lecturers and students, providing first-class lecturers and excellent facilities, allowing students to thrive in one of the world's finest educational environments.
With that objective in mind, the new campus was designed to provide various areas where information could flow swiftly and freely, including lecturers' offices, administrative offices, smart classrooms, multimedia rooms, laboratories, student dormitories, student unions, canteens, library, theatre halls, and sports venues.
However, in these areas where there would typically be large groups of people, providing a high- speed and smooth network environment is always going to be a challenge.
To meet the challenges, high-density deployment and Wi-Fi access for such a large number of users are critical. A high-speed network for the campus offices and dormitories is required to support multiple key services, provide high reliability and easy O&M. Moreover, constructing a data centre which can be quickly rolled out, deployed in stages, and easily managed while reducing energy consumption is also a huge challenge during the construction of the campus's ICT infrastructure facilities.
In short, just like any business in the age of data disruption, a truly modern and “smart” campus has to be able to provide connectivity at the right place, with the right bandwidth, at the right time. For the university, this is crucial as providing high-quality education is now about resource sharing, with greater personalisation that allows students to learn anytime, anywhere.
Flexible Solutions for Complex Connectivity Challenges
To solve these challenges, Xiamen worked with Huawei, a company that thrives on innovation and providing solutions that are designed for interconnectivity with a proven track record of over 30 years in the networking field.
Without a reliable, flexible and high-speed network coverage, Xiamen University Malaysia couldn’t possibly embrace a smart campus philosophy. Huawei was able to provide this essential foundation through the deployment of a 10GB/s network (which could reach up to 100 GB/s), thereby meeting the requirements of the most bandwidth-hungry academic tasks.
Furthermore, the Wi-Fi solution helps provide customised network coverage to meet the requirements for various scenarios, such as in classrooms, auditoriums, meeting rooms, dormitories, and sports centre.
Meanwhile, Huawei’s fully programmable switches allow the university to simultaneously deploy wired and wireless networks in the new campus network, unify user policies on the entire network, as well as ensure network security. The agile controller supports both fixed and mobile networks in the campus, guaranteeing a highly consistent service experience and providing access to users anytime and anywhere.
Here we go into the details of the solutions that Xiamen University Malaysia has deployed to achieve its goals. It gets a bit technical, but it may help you understand the benefits that each solution can bring to the campus (and perhaps to your own organisation):
Smart, Modular Data Centre
While cloud is gaining prominence everywhere, it doesn’t mean that data centres are completely on the outs. As requirements may differ between organisations, many are leveraging the best of both the on-premises and cloud worlds.
On-prem typically means having a data centre. Nevertheless, gone are the days when an organisation have to make huge investments in order to deploy a new, full-blown data centre. Today’s data centres can be portable, modular and best of all, much less environmentally taxing.
We’re talking about the next-generation data centre approach, and this was what Xiamen University Malaysia sought to implement with help from Huawei.
Huawei's modular data centre solution adopts a modular architecture and is prefabricated and pre- commissioned in factories. Compared with traditional data centres, this innovative data centre solution from Huawei reduces deployment time by 50%. What's more, it provides on-demand deployment and flexible capacity expansion, as well as support for service requirements in cloud computing, facilitating the rapid development of the campus.
In-room down flow air conditioning incorporates cold aisle containment design to improve cooling efficiency in the data centre, reducing electricity costs. In addition, the highly efficient modular UPS and 2N design ensure highly reliable power supply.
The NetEco intelligent management system facilitates unified management of the equipment room environment. The intelligent management and operations not only simplifies O&M but also reduces O&M time.
Various applications on campus, 24/7 virtual labs, and high-performance computing services are all able to run stably and quickly on this high-performance modular data centre, meeting the current and future education and research requirements for both teachers and students.
Flexible, Adaptable and Future-Ready
With the technology foundations firmly in place, the university was prepared both in terms of flexibility and adaptability to respond to different demands over time.
For instance, Xiamen University Malaysia was able to implement its all-in-one card applications and centralised control management system of all classrooms, which rely on the data networks and data centre.
Now, lecturers can insert one of these all-in-one cards into a slot to turn on all the devices in the classroom. When a fault occurs, IT personnel can remotely check the status of the devices in the classroom, make instant calls, and quickly resolve the problem.
The all-in-one card service has increased convenience in terms of consumption and identification for lecturers and students alike in the campus.
Just last September, the university celebrated its first group of graduates. An increasing number of students will come, not only from Asia but all over the world, to study at the stunning and first-class university.
Huawei will continue to work closely with Xiamen University to continuously innovate technology and launch smart, safe, and green campus solutions, products, and services to build a top-tier information infrastructure for Xiamen University and other higher education institutions in Malaysia.
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