Customer Story: The Southport School

The Southport School benefits from next-generation wireless network


To upgrade the school’s wireless network to deliver improved performance, security and visibility, plus allow seamless onboarding of BYOD devices.


To design, configure and deploy a next-generation wireless network solution using Aruba ClearPass and Palo Alto Networks security platform.

IT Outcome

Centralised network management for easy monitoring and reporting with improved BYOD policy control, enhanced data insights, smoother workflow automation, and network visibility.

Business Outcome

Seamless wireless experience across the school, with significantly improved access, performance, coverage and user experience.

The Background

Established in 1901 and located on the Gold Coast, The Southport School is an independent Anglican day and boarding school for boys.

The school currently has over 1,600 students from Preschool to Year 12 (including 200 boarders) and more than 300 staff across two campuses. It offers a range of state-of-the-art facilities, including a 220 seat chapel, 600 seat drama and music theatre, and a swimming complex.

The Challenge

The Southport School has a duty of care for its students within the context of a modern, technology-driven teaching and learning environment.

However, it was clear that the legacy wireless network was struggling to cope with the demands of a growing student population and increasing use of BYOD devices.

In addition to a relatively weak security posture, wireless coverage across the school was poor, network performance was slow, and there was limited guest access. What’s more, the onboarding process for BYOD devices needed to be streamlined so that users could enjoy quick, easy and secure access to the network.

The IT administrators had limited visibility over the network and were restricted in their ability to monitor usage data such as how long students were using the internet and the tasks they were completing online. IT administrators were also restricted in their ability to report and track inappropriate internet usage, including social media abuse and cyberbullying.

As a result, The Southport School sought to replace the legacy network with a next-generation wireless solution – a secure, agile and scalable solution that supported a multi-device and multimedia environment with seamless BYOD onboarding and centralised network management.

“It was clear that we needed to significantly improve network performance and enable better access to the internet for our staff, students and visitors,” says Richard Humphreys, Director – ICT, The Southport School.

IT Outcome

Data#3 had become a trusted strategic partner to The Southport School over a period of nearly 10 years, delivering extensive services across the school’s data centre and desktop environment, as well as software provisioning and support.

As such, The Southport School looked to Data#3 to help them procure and deploy the best solution for their needs. Data#3’s in-depth understanding of the school’s business and IT requirements meant they were ideally placed to recommend the right multi-vendor solution.

Following a comprehensive evaluation process, Data#3 recommended an end-to-end solution leveraging technology from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, and Palo Alto Networks. The decision was based not only on performance capability, but also the seamless integration between Aruba and Palo Alto Networks.

The solution consisted of:

  • 235 x Aruba 315 access points
  • 2 x Aruba 7210 controllers
  • Aruba ClearPass for secure, streamlined onboarding of BYOD devices
  • Aruba AirWave for real-time data insights and enhanced visibility over the network
  • 2 x Palo Alto Networks PA-3020 next-generation firewalls
  • Palo Alto Networks WildFire® cloud-based threat analysis service
  • Palo Alto Panorama™ network security management

Aruba ClearPass enables the school to quickly and easily on-board student BYOD devices, including laptops, tablets and smartphones. Aruba ClearPass also helps identify what devices are being used on campus, how many are being used, and which operating systems are supported.

With enhanced control over the entire network, Aruba ClearPass offers centralised management, increased security thanks to device identity, improved BYOD policy control, and workflow automation in the one cohesive solution.

The new Aruba 315 access points offer significantly improved performance and easily handle more than 50 BYOD devices per access point.

Furthermore, the radio performance is excellent – band steering by the Aruba controllers now sees over 90% of BYOD devices on the 5Ghz spectrum. This capability is crucial in a high-density environment in order to meet increasing K-12 performance demands.

The configuration of the new Palo Alto Network PA-3020 next-generation firewalls is also significant. The school has two separate 1Gbps internet links provided by the University of Queensland, however the new firewalls have active awareness of the sessions for each link (i.e. session synchronisation). This ensures strong and reliable availability in a redundant environment.

The Palo Alto Networks next-generation firewall’s direct integration with Aruba enables the linking of student internet usage records and their device authentication. The school uses the Palo Alto Panorama network security management application to manage both firewalls from a single pane of glass, as well as for extra storage for internet usage logs. The next-generation firewall is also application aware and comes with the ability to run SSL inspection, which can quickly identify an unwanted application on the network.

Business Outcome

The business benefits of the new solution for The Southport School delivers:

  • Seamless coverage – students, staff and guests now enjoy smooth access to the network with no coverage issues, regardless of where they are on campus.
  • Improved performance – the school now consumes around 2TB of data per day, which was unthinkable on the legacy network.
  • Agile onboarding – the new solution enables approximately 1,700 BYOD devices to connect to the network quickly and easily every day.
  • Better visibility – the new Palo Alto Networks next-generation firewalls allow administrators to monitor and report student internet usage via easy-to-use dashboards. Students’ academic performance, behaviour and computer usage results are all mapped towards a diligence scale. This is vital to enable the school to meet its duty of care obligations.
  • Enhanced security – Palo Alto Networks next-generation security platform is a powerful firewall that protects the school’s network from external cyber threats. Additionally, the Palo Alto Networks WildFire cloud-based threat analysis service intercepts suspect files and detonates them on multiple virtual machines before they enter the school’s network.


Thanks to the new Aruba wireless network solution and Palo Alto Networks, The Southport School is well placed to meet the evolving technology demands of its students and staff.

“From greater network coverage and improved security, to enhanced reporting capabilities and better BYOD control, we now have a powerful platform upon which to deliver a seamless wireless experience across the school,” enthuses Richard Humphreys.

“And Data#3 was instrumental in pulling it all together and making it happen.”

“We see Data#3 as a genuine partner; a technology partner that’s with us for the long haul to help us achieve our goal of becoming a national leader in technology-driven teaching and learning.”

Richard Humphreys, Director – ICT, The Southport School

Download The Southport School Customer Story
Click to view Video Case Study
Click to view Media Release

To learn more about how Data#3 can assist your organisation, call 1300 23 28 23 or enquire online.

Tags: Aruba, Aruba AirWave, Aruba ClearPass, Brisbane, Cloud, Cloud Solutions, Education, Gold Coast, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), K-12 Education, Network Security, Next-Generation Wireless, Palo Alto Networks, Palo Alto Networks Panorama, Palo Alto Networks WildFire, Queensland, Security, The Anywhere Classroom, Wireless Infrastructure, Wireless Network



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