U’s network speed to get upgraded

The $16 million Gopher GigaNet upgrade will make the network’s speed 20 times faster.

Patricia Drey

The University’s computer network will be more than 20 times faster after receiving an upgrade planned for completion by the end of this year, a network official said.

During the transition to the improved system, technicians will try to impact users as little as possible, Louis Hammond, assistant director of operations for Networking and Telecommunications Services, said.

“In a perfect world, when we do the cutover, you would only see a minute of downtime,” Hammond said in a presentation Wednesday.

The $16 million project – Gopher GigaNet – will make the network faster and more reliable, Hammond said.

The manufacturer no longer supports the University’s 1997 network hardware, he said.

Almost every part of Networking and Telecommunications Services is working on this project, operations director John Miller said.

“We didn’t farm out things to vendors,” Miller said.

Department technicians will begin upgrading equipment on the St. Paul campus, Hammond said. Then they will move to the East Bank south of Washington Avenue Southeast, followed by the West Bank, the rest of the East Bank and finally off-campus locations, he said.

“St. Paul gets the benefits of having the new service right away, but there’s also more risk involved,” Hammond said.

The new main routing hardware should arrive in late March, he said. The plan is to switch over main network elements to the new hardware during the July 4 weekend.

Hammond said the weekend will be the most risky and critical for the upgrade. Technicians will keep the old hardware in place and have a back-out plan in case the new hardware does not work, he said.

If the July 4 switchover goes well, technicians will begin switching individual computers to the new equipment one-by-one, Hammond said, with a goal of switching 2,000 users per week.

They will do the switches during the day, Hammond said, so users can let them know immediately if something does not work.