Partner content funded by Juniper.
The Archdiocese of Brisbane and its Centacare agency are using AI-based device management to modernise Wi-Fi management at hundreds of group homes, childcare facilities and offices in Queensland.
This is enabling thousands of residents and 5,000 employees to stay connected to the world by accessing the Internet, video chatting with friends and family, watching movies and accessing other online services.
The Wi-Fi modernisation has also reduced administration burden for the organisation’s small technology team, which manages hundreds of networks across a 77,000 square kilometre area.
Previously, administrators often drove hundreds of kilometres to troubleshoot and reconfigure network equipment – even to change a Wi-Fi base station password.
This changed after a review of campus switching technologies, during which ICT operations manager Iain Teo realised that centralised management could be a massive time-saver. It would make it possible to perform troubleshooting, configuration, access management and other everyday tasks from a central location.
Far apart, but connected
The organisation rolled out Juniper Networks’ AI-driven Mist Wireless LAN Platform across approximately 300 sites. The platform is built on a cloud-based microservices architecture programmable via open APIs, and is intended to simplify and automate network operations and troubleshooting.
This sped up deployment. Rather than sending technicians to every site to install each Wi-Fi router, the project team arranged for the units, along with Juniper EX2300 Ethernet Switches, to be delivered to remote sites and plugged in by local staff.
Once connected, the Mist platform automatically propagated the organisation’s standard configuration to each device via the cloud – allowing each base station to be brought online within 10 minutes.
“The longest wait was for the courier to pick up the access points and deliver them to the sites,” Teo says. He adds that Mist and Juniper are a “completely different experience” than the organisation’s previous network.
Wi-Fi devices are now managed through Juniper Sky Enterprise, a central portal that enables batch configuration of connected units. Cloud network management has sped up firmware updates: “Deployments and updates happen in minutes, not days,” said Teo.
It has also made it possible to issue one-time passwords locked to a MAC address of a TV or IoT device, removing the need to travel long distances to manually change passwords to connect devices. “Now it’s a two-minute job, instead of an hour of work,” Teo says.
The Mist platform has also enabled group-home staff to quickly provide guest Wi-Fi access to visitors. Teo says the Wi-Fi performance is strong – one user said they could connect to the Wi-Fi 50 metres from a building.
The platform’s AI automatically initiates a packet-capture session when it detects a network anomaly. Mist also can provide predictive recommendations to help avoid or fix problems. Toe estimates about 60 percent of the service desk’s time identifying and resolving wireless issues has been saved.
Teo and his team are now exploring the addition of sensors to keep residents safe and prevent them wandering. They are also deploying Mist in 138 childcare centres that serve 26,000 children.
Teo says the team can now “focus on strategic projects, instead of figuring what went wrong with the network.”