The university environment tends toward open communications. The free flow of information is not only encouraged, but necessary for learning. Millions of students at these institutions, on their own for the first time, feed their hunger for information and stimulation via campus networks. They are researching and, in their more leisure moments, downloading songs and videos, playing online games, sharing data with peers via social networking sites. In other words, this population is maximizing the potential of the internet.

The IT staffs charged with keeping university networks operating are faced with a dilemma specific to this vertical: how to maintain network defenses within a culture that thrives on unfettered access to information. Students demand the fastest connections and cannot tolerate obstacles put in their path. IT administrators must provide as free and open a network as possible to foster the furthest evolution of their users.

But the academic environment is not only nurturing its students. It must also enable campus staff to perform their tasks as well. That means all the machinations of any commerce site are part of the mix. Personal student info must be protected from breaches. Protections must be put in place to guard against outside network intrusions, as well as data leaving from within.

The philosophy of the campus is ideal. Running the operation involves nuts and bolts. A special, new online exclusive section on the SC website looks at several instances of how various campuses are contending with these issues. You are invited to take a look: