A planned upgrade of campus voice and data communication networks will accommodate the projected growth.
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The Urbana campus has launched a five-year plan for modernizing and upgrading its voice and data communication networks.
The majority of the campus’s network has not been upgraded since 1987, according to Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services, and more than 260 of the 300 buildings on campus need new wiring and electronics to enhance security and reliability.
The escalating demand for online services and electronic communications has increased data traffic on campus by 200 percent since 1998.
“We anticipate continued growth of about 10 percent per year in the use of the network for the next 10 years,” said Peter M. Siegel, chief information officer. “This increased use makes it even more critical that the campus network have improved reliability and increased security. While no one can predict all the changes, we can bet that they will be significant and we need a modern infrastructure on which to build all the new services.”
Deteriorating equipment, some of which is unreliable and dissimilar from other units’, makes it difficult to provide technical support and escalates maintenance costs. Many communications equipment rooms around campus, which have been shoehorned into buildings constructed long before the technology revolution, are substandard – cramped and lacking the proper lighting, air conditioning and controlled access needed for the equipment.
The five-year, five-phase project, now under way, calls for installation of more network jacks, infrastructure such as wiring or cabling, and the building or retrofitting of 60 communications equipment rooms around campus.
An estimated 156 buildings will get complete overhauls of their voice and data infrastructure; another 108 buildings will be upgraded as required. In addition to addressing deferred maintenance needs, the project will provide recurring funds for predictive, periodic upgrades according to equipment life cycles. Residence halls will not be included in the upgrade since their network (URHnet) is funded and maintained separately.
The upgraded network will be more secure and have greater firewall and filtering capabilities at the network entrance to campus and offer improved tools to protect desktop systems and for managing and detecting quirky problems, such as those that result from malicious attacks. The new infrastructure also will allow for high-speed data transfer: 1 gigabyte-per-second connections from buildings to the backbone and 100 megabytes-per-second switched connections from the jacks.
The costs of the network upgrade will be funded as a campus priority within the overall set of campus needs. Campus priorities are funded from the total new funds available to the campus and from reallocation.
Western Telecommunication Consulting Inc. of Los Angeles, a firm that has helped numerous major institutions modernize their networks, assisted with some of the initial project planning. CITES is planning and coordinating the upgrade and consulting with campus units on their needs and technical requirements through a network upgrade liaisons committee composed of campus users. Each dean or unit coordinator appointed a representative to the committee, which is working with the CIO to prioritize the list of buildings to be upgraded.
By spreading the project across five years, and providing significant advance notice of work to be done, CITES hopes to minimize disruptions as much as possible, although space reallocations may be required in some instances to accommodate construction.
“The network upgrade is not something that one unit can do on its own,” said Stan Yagi, assistant chief information officer in CITES. “This is a shared responsibility. It requires a partnership between the administrators that do the local networks in the buildings and CITES. The network administrators make sure there’s connectivity for all the machines in their buildings. CITES and the network administrators need to know exactly who is at the end of each connection; we have to do that collectively.”
Users can keep abreast of the project through status reports on CITES’ Web site, www.cites.uiuc.edu.