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Network connection upgrade fails again

Matt Bramanti | Wednesday, February 25, 2004

For the second time in three days, the Office of Information Technologies failed to successfully install a new campus Internet connection and disrupted service to thousands of users.Tom Klimek, manager of network engineering for OIT, said a hardware failure quickly crippled the new fiber optic connection which is designed to link the Notre Dame campus with Internet backbone connections in Chicago. “The installation failed approximately two hours after cutover,” Klimek said. “There was a short outage at around 8:30 a.m.” “Cutover” refers to the process in which all Internet traffic was switched to the new connection. Klimek said OIT personnel encountered the same problem that disabled the new connection when it was first activated last weekend. About three hours after the first installation Sunday morning, a piece of optical networking equipment failed. This failure sent all Internet traffic to a lower-capacity backup link, which slowed Internet access across campus.Optical gear converts electronic pulses into beams of light, allowing for very high-speed Internet connections.Klimek said network engineers worked with equipment suppliers to trace the defect to a particular piece of faulty hardware.”Our managed network vendor has isolated the problem to a specific device,” he said. “However, the vendor is still investigating the exact cause.”Klimek said OIT is working to redesign the installation process, with the aim of improving the network’s reliability. “We will define a different cutover process that mitigates impact on the University’s Internet bandwidth,” he said.In addition, Klimek said the University’s chief technology officer, Dewitt Latimer, will meet with the vendor’s representatives Wednesday morning to address the problem.Klimek acknowledged that the back-to-back breakdowns have raised eyebrows among weary users. “This implementation is subject to very close scrutiny,” he said. “What we’ve experienced over the past few days is no doubt aggravating to campus Internet users.”However, Klimek says he expects the connection, when successfully installed, will improve Internet service for the Notre Dame campus.”Once switching mechanisms … [are] running smoothly, we expect a high level of reliability along with the significant increase in bandwidth,” Klimek said.