University upgrading its network for faster, more secure connection

by Stephanie Gregory

The University is in the final stages of completing an upgrade of its computer network infrastructure, with some of the best technology available.

Called “GigaNet” for the speed of the system, the project will allow for a newer, faster, higher-capacity and more secure Internet connection.

The system also provides features enabling other applications, such as video conferencing, while adding a central firewall system and a network management system.

John Miller, Networking and Telecommunications Services director, said the University is a premier institution that relies on technology to benefit students, faculty members and researchers.

“If the University wishes to compete for the best students, the best faculty and the best grants to do the best research, the base technology that the institution can provide certainly makes a difference,” Miller said.

Miller is responsible for the operational areas within the department and said the University has not had a major network upgrade since 1997.

The actual upgrade consists of installing thousands of switches, routers, servers and wires. This $13 million project began in August and is expected to be done by July.

Currently, the University shares approximately 600 megabytes per second. The system upgrade will allow for connections capable of one gigabit per second. Students will notice a difference with the increase in speed of the Internet on campus, Miller said.

Network installation crews recently made the upgrade in Comstock Hall.

Sophomore resident Galen Papaconstandinou said, “Before, we were only getting 800 kilobites per second. Now, our record is 16 megabits per second.”

Joe Masrud, a chemical engineering sophomore, said he also has noticed a change.

“There isn’t much of a difference for anything Web-related, like browsing, but a huge difference on local network files transferring,” he said.

Philip Kachelmyer, Networking and Telecommunications Services director for service delivery, confirmed the students’ observations.

“Most people will notice the effects of the network upgrade,” he said. “They will see faster data transfers and new services as they are made available.”

The St. Paul campus, the Academic Health Center and the University’s West Bank have all been successfully moved to the new electronics. Upgrades onthe East Bank are continuing.

The new system is expected to be more scalable, available and reliable for all on campus. With the GigaNet upgrade, if one link from a building fails, there is another that can pick up and take its place, meaning there will always be some sort of connection.

“I think one of the best compliments Ö would be that the system is taken for granted, like power, dial tone and the like, and always just be there,” Miller said.