What work is ITS doing anyway?

With these emails about potential network interruptions and the unexpected problems on Sunday, you might be wondering what is going on.  ITS is in the process of what is called a “core refresh”.  Basically, we are replacing the central networking equipment that runs the University and upgrading it to increase bandwidth throughout campus.  Concurrently, we are adding in layers of redundancy to help protect us from potential failures.  The process of a network upgrade is incredibly complex in an environment where users are accessing systems 24/7 year round.  To do that, we are working with network engineers who help us to configure the new equipment in parallel, test functionality, and then cutover from the old to the new.  It is this “cutover” time that can cause brief interruptions in service.

We try to anticipate what could go wrong so we are prepared to respond to it, but we don’t foresee everything.  For example, on Sunday, there was a failure of equipment that affected our failover as well.  We are now brainstorming methods to prevent that from recurring.   Overall, the work has been progressing well and we are excited at what this will allow us to do moving forward.  With the critical infrastructure upgraded, we will move on to focus on improving bandwidth in all buildings along with a major wireless upgrade to occur in 2014.

On Tuesday, March 19 and Thurs, March 21, between 8 and midnight, ITS will be continuing its work in the data center to connect the new equipment.  Again, we don’t expect major disruptions, but people will be on hand and ready to respond should the unexpected happen.