Volume 10, Number 16 April 18, 2003

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Campus switches to 'routed' network May 17

- This phase of $15-m USR-net project will boost performance & reliability -

Glenn Hollinger, Manager of Network Services for the Information Technology Services (ITS) Division

Glenn Hollinger, Manager of Network Services for the Information Technology Services (ITS) Division, says while some users may not notice effects of the network change immediately, "for others there will be a dramatic improvement."

The first major milestone in the two-year $15-million upgrading of the U of S computer network comes on the May 17-19 long weekend with the switchover to a new "routed" format that will boost the capacity and reliability of the University's entire system.

Rick Bunt, Associate Vice-President for Information and Communications Technology, says all users will see a benefit from the two-year USR-net upgrading project, which is designed to improve the campus computer network's ability to support the increasing demands of research at the U of S.

"Overall, the USR-net project will improve the performance, reliability, and security of our network and allow for the introduction of new network-based services," Bunt says.

Glenn Hollinger, Manager of Network Services for the University's Information Technology Services (ITS) Division, says this phase of the project will bring a number of benefits, including:

  • Fast automatic recovery from any network equipment failures.

  • More reliability, since any failure in one part of the network will no longer affect the performance of other parts.

  • Better network security, allowing for easier establishment of firewalls and preventing one computer from masquerading as another.

  • Better performance of all computers on the network, since background traffic 'noise' will be reduced.

Hollinger says while some users may not notice effects of the change immediately, "for others there will be a dramatic improvement."

Bunt adds, "One of the benefits of a routed network is that it will be easier for users to work from different locations."

He says it's vitally important that the network setting of every computer on campus be changed before May 17 to accept DHCP (dynamic host configuration protocol) service, since the network will no longer use fixed IP (internet protocol) for the desktop computers, laptops, printers or servers connected to it. Instead, the network will automatically assign correct network configuration information to computers wherever they are on the network. Computers whose settings are not changed will not be able to access the network after May 17.

Bunt says ITS staff are working hard to help everyone make this change to their machines. Instructions are posted on the USR-net project website, at: http://USR-net.usask.ca. A telephone hotline has also been established at 966-2888 to help individual computer users who may be having difficulties making the change to a machine, and ITS support staff are available to assist where necessary.

Hollinger says the next phase of the USR-net project will see the replacement of the "thin-wire" network cable connecting computers and other devices to the campus network by "100-base-T" technology. The upgrade of every current connection will be paid for by the USR-net project, but there will be a charge to departments or units for connections not involved in research. Bunt says efforts have been made to reduce the cost to departments for this changeover by doing the work at the same time as research-related work is being done in the same area.

The $15-million USR-net project is funded with $4.8 million each from the federal and provincial governments, and the remaining $5.4 million coming from the U of S, suppliers, and other sources.

Bunt says the impetus for upgrading the campus network comes from increased research activity on campus and demand for new network-based services. In particular, higher capacity is required for the huge amount of data generated by the new Canadian Light Source synchrotron facility now being built at the U of S.

The USR-net project will eventually connect up to 10,000 computers in more than 40 buildings on campus.

For more information, contact communications.office@usask.ca

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