ABOUT THE CAMPUS NETWORK
Quality of Service
The College's Data Network serves all thirty-six buildings and a large number of outdoor resources like Blue Light Phones, Security Cameras and exterior wireless access points:
The internal network is distributed from our core facility via buried fiber-optic cables to each building. Inside each building is a Building Distribution Frame where the incoming fiber is connected to a stack of network switches. These switches distribute connectivity through copper Ethernet cabling to wireless Access Points installed in buildings. We also have the capability to provide hard-wired network connections to student rooms upon request.
Our core facility provides an interface between the campus network and our Internet Service Provider. We share a common 500 Megabyte link to the internet, and in a typical month during the semester the network handles about 40 petabytes (more or less) of data inbound from the internet to campus users, plus about half that heading outbound. Besides routing functions, our core facility manages registration of user network equipment, firewall protections, intrusion detection / prevention, wireless networking, virtual private networking, and overall traffic monitoring / regulation. It also hosts a number of servers carrying out different supporting functions for networking.
Besides data moving among user computers and other user devices, the campus network handles traffic for campus fire alarms, energy management systems, Voice-Over-IP phones, security cameras, electronic display boards and a host of other smaller-scale devices.
The network is very reliable. Our goal is to provide network connectivity with a reliability of .999, which means that services will be unavailable for less than nine hours in an entire year. Not counting the occasional planned outage to allow for maintenance work, we have successfully met that goal - in 2010-2011 the campus experienced no unplanned internal outages, and only one failure of our Internet Service Provider lasting three hours.. Sometimes segments of the network can fail when individual pieces of equipment on the network edge break. For example, a stack of switches could go down in a power failure, or a fiber optic cable could degrade - this could affect users in half a building. Routine monitoring usually reveals these issues (or the users call the Help Desk), and we respond to quickly repair the faulty hardware.
The Department of Networking also works hard to keep equipment current. We upgrade software and replace hardware on a regular schedule to ensure that traffic flows smoothly, and we frequently evaluate alternatives to the equipment we use to see if there is a better way to do business.
MAINTENANCE AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE CAMPUS NETWORK
Our staff is constantly working to maintain the College Network in top condition. We do firmware upgrades on equipment, clean and test fiber connections, replace hardware that is no longer supported by the manufacturer or just plain obsolete, try out new technologies we encounter in the industry, and train to develop new skills.
We periodically bring in student interns to help with our work, and are involved pretty closely with elements of our colleague's tasks within the IT community. We also engage in a long-term process to drill on disaster-preparedness procedures and to document hundreds of details of our systems and their operation. There's never a dull moment.