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IT Telecommunications & Systems Services
Department Plan 2009-2014

Mission

Provide network services (wired and wireless), telephone services, Internet access, and all central computing facilities (including email servers, www servers, file servers, student lab servers, video servers, administrative applications servers, database servers, etc.) for the entire university in a secure and reliable environment.

Relevant institutional issues

Nearly all functions of the university are dependent on services provided by the Information Technology TSS department.

Action items

  • Connect NCAR super computer in Cheyenne to BiSON ring at 10 gigabits per second
  • Separate UW connection to BiSON ring to two different buildings
  • Migrate central servers to new data center
  • Upgrade email system to Exchange 2007
  • Migrate servers to virtual technologies in order to enhance reliability and business continuity
  • Upgrade data network to provide higher performance and enhanced security & reliability
  • Implement new/expanded data storage and backup systems
  • Implement and test disaster recovery plan
  • Continue growth and expansion of remote student lab system
  • Enhance and improve central data servers including WWW servers, Peoplesoft servers, Banner and Luminis servers, and other central academic and administrative servers
  • Continue to integrate telephony and computing

Implementation

Connect NCAR super computer in Cheyenne to BiSON ring at 10 gigabits per second

In approximately 2011, the National Center for Atmospheric Research NCAR), one of six nationally funded supercomputer sites, will install their newest supercomputer at a site west of Cheyenne. The University of Wyoming is a major partner and will have access to the supercomputer. In preparation for the supercomputer, UW and its partners, including CSU, NCAR and NOAA, will upgrade the existing bi-state optical network (BiSON) to connect to the supercomputer site with redundant connectivity so there will be no single points of failure in the data network. In addition, the BiSON partners will be upgrading the network to support 10 gigabits per second. This connectivity will provide UW researchers fast and reliable connectivity to supercomputer resources for research and education.

Separate UW connection to BiSON ring to two different buildings

The bi-state optical network (BiSON) is a high speed optical network supported by UW, CSU, NCAR and NOAA. The network provides two high-speed, redundant paths from UW to the Front Range GigaPOP (FRGP) in Denver. The latter is a network peering point in Denver operated by UW and other partners in the Rocky Mountain Front Range. The FRGP provides UW access to the commodity Internet and research networks such as Internet2 and the National Lambda Rail (NLR). Currently, UW’s redundant connections, BiSON east and BiSON west, both terminate in UW’s Telecom building. We plan to move the BiSON west connection to terminate in the new Information Technology building and provide redundant campus connection to the two sites so that loss of network connectivity to either building will not disrupt Internet access.

Migrate central servers to new data center

UW is building a new, modern data center which will offer enhanced reliability over that offered by the current Ivinson facility. Existing servers and facilities in the Ivinson building will be migrated to the facility resulting in increased availability and reliability of all central computing services.

Upgrade email system to Exchange 2007

Email has become a vital daily productivity tools for most people. TSS plans to upgrade the central email system to Exchange 2007. Exchange 2007 offers a number of benefits including enhanced reliability, expanded connectivity options, better support for handheld devices, enhanced functionality when using web browsers to access email, necessary infrastructure for unified messaging, better protection from spam and viruses, and enhanced management tools.

Migrate servers to virtual technologies in order to enhance reliability and business continuity

The University is in the process of moving most Windows and Linux servers to VMware. With VMware servers, virtual servers can easily be migrated from one hardware platform to another even though the underlying hardware is different.

Sun Solaris servers will be virtualized using the Sun LDOM technology to partition servers into multiple logical hardware servers.

Virtualization of central servers has many ramifications and benefits for the university including better utilization of hardware, the ability to scale the size of servers on demand, and the ability to dynamically move servers from one hardware platform to another in the event of hardware failures. In short, virtualization will reduce costs and increase server availability.

Upgrade data network to provide higher performance and enhanced security & reliability

The campus data network will be enhanced to support ever growing demands. The core/backbone network will be upgraded to 10 gigabits per second. Network reliability will be enhanced though additional, redundant, fiber connections in order to reduce the impact of the loss of network connectivity to any buildings or the cut of any campus fiber.

The data network, and related network security devices such a firewall and intrusion prevention devices, will also be upgraded to provide enhanced data security by detecting

Implement new/expanded data storage and backup systems

New disk access technology such as iSCSI offers the potential to purchase storage at a much lower cost than traditional high-speed fiber channel storage. New ISCSI based storage systems not only offer high performance – but also offer high reliability and redundancy whereby data is replicated in remote locations. The university will be implementing iSCSI storage and moving all applications that perform well from fiber channel storage to iSCSI storage. Some applications may still require fiber channel storage for performance reasons, however these application will also be connected to iSCSI storage (where data is asynchronously duplicated) for disaster recovery purposes.

Lower cost iSCSI storage is planned for individual use which will allow users with individual workstations to backup important data that exists only on their workstations.

Data on local (Laramie) disks will be backed up to remote tape systems (in Cheyenne).

Implement and test disaster recovery plan

Server virtualization and distributed iSCSI storage are key technologies to be used in implementing the university’s disaster recovery / business continuity plans. These technologies allow the university to distribute servers and disk storage among multiple campus sites and quickly repurpose the equipment use for critical applications in an emergency. Consequently, realistic disaster recovery plans can be implemented at a lower cost than in previous years.

Continue growth and expansion of remote student lab system

Use of the student lab system has grown significantly over the past years. Only a few years ago, the lab systems were used by a small percentage of the student body. Today, over 95% of Laramie students use the student lab system. Work began a couple years ago to make the student lab system available over the Internet and provide the same user experience as that found by students who sit down at a physical lab node in Laramie. This, in conjunction with the campus wireless system, allows students to access the student lab through their laptops through campus. Furthermore, the student remote lab is available from UW housing or any location world-wide having Internet access. Therefore, the student lab system offers the same functionality for Outreach students as it does for students in Laramie. The remote student lab system requires only Java on the remote computer – thus is accessible from Apple, Linux, Windows or nearly any workstation.

The remote student lab system will be continuously enhanced to support more applications, more convenient access, and support for more device types including handheld devices.

Enhance and improve central data servers including WWW servers, Peoplesoft servers, Banner and Luminis servers, and other central academic and administrative servers

A large number of central servers are required to support all of the university’s data requirements. The servers need to be continuously updated to provide new functions, enhance security, and accommodate new software applications. As noted elsewhere, many servers will be virtualized and moved to new hardware platforms that are more versatile and reliable.

Continue to integrate telephony and computing

The separation between telephony, data networks and computing continue to blur. In recent years, UW has implemented Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephones that operate over the campus data network (as opposed to twisted pair copper cables that run from each phone all the way back to a central telephone switch). A new voice mail system has been made available so that customers can receive voice mail messages in the email inboxes and listen to their voice mails on their computers. Conversely, customers can call into the voice mail system and have email read to them over the phone.

Progress will continue on the integration of telephony and data in various ways including soft phones (software running on computers that emulate physical telephones), integration of computer based contact lists and automatic computer dialing, integration with cell phones (for example, switching between one’s office phone and cell phone during a single phone call), integration with email & instant messaging, and a concept known as ‘presence’ whereby a caller know beforehand about the availability of the remote user as well as the best method for communication (email, instant messaging, telephone, etc).

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