What Is a Campus Area Network?
A campus area network is a group of interconnected local area networks operating within a limited geographical area. Campus networks are used in manufacturing, warehousing, universities, and also in corporate and industrial settings.
Campus Area Networks (CAN) provide more control over network resources and typically relies on a centralized hub to which other locations connect, when compared to public networks. This network design is also sometimes referred to as a corporate area network, but it functions just the same.
CAN vs. WAN vs. MAN - What’s The Difference?
The main difference between a CAN, a WAN (Wide Area Network), and a MAN (Metropolitan Area Network) comes down to the geographical area they serve. As coverage requirements expand, the type of infrastructure used will also change. For example, some networks can use Wi-Fi access points for certain use cases while some could use cellular access points to improve predictability in wireless communication for other use cases.
- Campus Area Network - Provides private coverage to areas such as colleges, hospitals, and military bases through centralized management.
- Wide Area Network - Covers large geographic regions connecting users and businesses across the country or world typically through VPNs over fiber connections.
- Metropolitan Area Network - Provides coverage across towns and cities with each town potentially having its own interconnected LAN that can share data with other towns on the MAN.
Benefits of Campus Area Network Design
Campus Area Networks provide a simple way for organizations to control their network resources, centralize their security efforts and share data quickly. Let’s explore how each of these benefits work within a campus area network.
In a campus area network, security is centralized and typically managed by an in-house IT department; however, this could be outsourced to a managed service provider. The benefit here is that all security and policy management comes from a single location, allowing organizations to scale with more confidence and ease.
Administrators can configure different firewall rules for each remote site that can be copied and applied to new sites as they emerge. Policies such as quality of service and network access can be uniformly applied to all sites or modified at different locations to meet business needs.
In a campus network, adding a new site can be as easy as applying an existing configuration to the new installed network infrastructure component after having someone on-site plug it in.
Campus area networks are designed with centralized control in mind. This allows organizations to manage everything in-house where administrators have full control over their infrastructure, QoS, and security policies.
In a larger network such as a WAN, there could be multiple network owners each controlling different policies for their location or portion of the network. CAN architecture strikes a balance between coverage and simplicity that makes it popular among enterprises and other large organizations.
CANs send traffic over a local connection, meaning data rates are significantly higher than traffic that has to travel across the internet over public infrastructure to reach its destination. Users at one site can quickly share large files with someone over at campus headquarters and vice versa. Data transfer is typically made possible via wireless access points, fiber backhauls, and Ethernet based backbone network infrastructure.
In recent years, many sysadmins have introduced private 5G into their campus network architectures to vastly improve their wireless communication coverage and predictability. Private cellular can easily expand tens of thousands of square feet per radio indoors and tens of thousands of square feet per radio outdoors.
Campus Area Network Use Cases
Before we dive into the inner workings of a campus area network, let’s first look at the different use cases for Campus Area Network (CAN) architecture.
Given its name, it’s no surprise college campuses use CAN architecture to support their staff and students. In many cases, college campuses are like a small town, requiring coverage across indoor and outdoor areas. In terms of capacity, some of the largest college campuses need to support tens of thousands of staff, students, and visitors.
Administrators can manage their access points as well as device policies from a single location, allowing secure and segmented access for both students and staff. For example, administrators can control all access points from one network allowing for better policy orchestration and simpler patch management.
Enterprises often use CAN architecture when their campus has multiple buildings and outdoor areas that require service. Large insurance and tech companies may have to support both network access from inside the office as well as in common indoor and outdoor areas.
In this case, administrators could deploy a private 5G network over their existing Wi-Fi network to provide blanket indoor and outdoor connectivity between buildings. This not only allows staff seamless access to resources, but also lays the groundwork for technology such as autonomous vehicles, remote learning, and augmented reality training through 5G’s ultra low-latency connections.
Remote Work Sites
Campus area networks can even be deployed quickly from remote locations now thanks to cloud-based management and cellular technology.
For example, a remote mining operation can deploy its own mobile wireless infrastructure to establish a connection to its headquarters. With the right configuration in place, this remote site could join the corporate network and share information only using their private infrastructure.
This enables data collection and transformation in places that were otherwise impossible, while still maintaining strict centralized security policies controlled by your IT department.
The Future of Campus Area Networks
As campuses get larger and the demand for more speed and coverage increases, campus area networks are pushed to their limits.
Many administrators are turning to cellular access points to cover large areas - especially outdoors - and accelerate the speed of deployment for critical wireless connectivity. In the past, organizations had to rely on commercial carriers for cellular access in many of these environments, which left administrators with little control in terms of their network resources, service levels, and budget.
Now private 5G deployments make setting up a cellular network as simple as configuring enterprise Wi-Fi. Administrators can expand their campus area networks quickly to cover both indoor and outdoor spaces. In cases where extra distance is needed, small roof-mounted antennas provide targeted communication, perfect for site-to-site data transfer.
Deploying Your Campus Area Network with Celona
If you’re looking to improve coverage, performance, and security across your campus area networks, Celona can help.
Celona provides organizations with their own cellular networks as a seamless turnkey solution. Through the simple yet powerful 5G LAN architecture, organizations can easily deploy plug-and-play cellular access points across campus to be ready in hours, not days.
Celona uses cloud networking principles to make implementing cellular across your campus network an out-of-box experience. Onboarding can be done alongside existing wireless and IT infrastructure, without interrupting business operations.
Celona 5G LANs integrate directly with your existing architecture allowing administrators to easily synchronize QoS policies and device onboarding policies via SIM management across the enterprise, from a centralized cloud-based console. Within the network, patented Celona MicroSlicing technology provides proactive monitoring and ensures network service-level objectives, such as throughput and latency requirements, are consistently being met.
See a Celona 5G LAN in action and learn the basics