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OIT Internet upgrade breaks down

Matt Bramanti | Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The University’s Office of Information Technologies installed a new Internet connection Sunday morning, but things didn’t go as planned. Just three hours after the connection was activated, a hardware failure disrupted the link, slowing campus-wide Internet access to a crawl.

Tom Klimek, manager of network engineering for OIT, said that after the new connection failed, there was a “failover” – a situation in which a failure triggers a backup connection. The failover sent all Internet traffic on campus to ResNet’s connection with GramTel, a South Bend-based Internet service provider. That connection consisted of half of the University’s bandwidth before the upgrade.

“The failover … slowed things down as demand fought with capacity,” Klimek said.

OIT was scheduled to reactivate the new connection at 6 a.m. today.

“There will be two brief outages lasting about five minutes between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.,” Klimek said. “We picked a time that will [have] the least impact on operations and the user community.”

Klimek said OIT will maintain a backup connection in the event of future problems. “Current plans are to keep a second service provider in standby mode and to failover all Internet traffic if required,” he said.

The new connection will supply significantly more bandwidth, both to the residence halls and the University at large, Klimek said. He said the new connection provides 100 megabits per second of bandwidth to campus, a 30 percent increase from the current level.

In addition, the University’s Internet2 connection will get a 400 percent boost in bandwidth to 100 megabits per second.

Internet2 is a consortium of more than 200 universities across the United States working on cutting-edge technologies to improve the Internet.

The connection will provide a direct fiber-optic link to Internet backbone components in Chicago, allowing OIT to increase capacity.

“With a complete fiber build from campus to Chicago, we will have the ability to scale as necessary,” Klimek said.

Despite the setback, Klimek was optimistic the new connection’s installation will help the University community.

“I don’t think we can base anything on one [failure],” he said. “We have confidence that the new connection will succeed.”