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As most of you are aware, ITS has spent the past three years upgrading the wiring to the wall jacks for voice and data connections from a three-pair Category 3 cable to a four-pair Category 5e cable to each jack. This allows for future use of this new cabling at speeds as high as one Gigabit per second (Gbps). At this point we have completed all of the General Fund buildings and have changed all of the switches to automatically negotiate the best choice of 10 or 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) and full or half duplex.
This past summer, after implementing quality of service controls on the campus network to protect slower speed traffic from higher speed traffic, we rolled out Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) service. Although there is no longer a monthly charge for standard 10/100 Mbps wired Ethernet service or for wireless, we do charge for GigE service—currently $150 monthly. Researchers should note that if the $150 charge would have a negative impact on a grant, be a barrier to obtaining grants, or interfere in accomplishing research, you can request that the charge be waived. To place an order for GigE service, please contact your Telecommunications Support Representative (TSR). You can learn who your TSR is at http://www.colorado.edu/its/tier2/tsrlookup.html.
In December 2009, we rolled out new Virtual Private Network (VPN) services to help you securely access campus resources from off-campus or from wirelessly connected devices and to access diverse library resources that require your IP address to be on the Boulder campus network. Please see http://www.colorado.edu/its/vpn for more details.
In January 2010, we doubled the bandwidth between the campus border routers and the campus border firewalls to two Gbps. Prior to that increase, we routed traffic for some specific and otherwise protected systems around the campus border firewalls in order to alleviate the load on the link between the border routers and the border firewalls. We have also completed the installation of redundant pairs of firewalls at each of the 13 distribution routers to facilitate further security for systems on the campus network.
As noted previously in the oneonone, the campus backbone has been upgraded to ten-Gbps redundant links between all the routers. We are currently working on a project to replace the border routers and firewalls to support ten-Gbps connections also. In concert with that project, we are also working to upgrade our connection with the Front Range GigaPOP (FRGP) from one Gbps to ten Gbps.
As a member of the FRGP Consortium, the Boulder campus is connected to Internet2/Abilene (I2) and the National Lambda Rail (NLR). These networks connect higher education and research institutions with speeds and services not available over the commodity Internet. We connect to I2 through the FRGP and to NLR through a separate GigE connection.
Requesting use of these networks is not necessary. If you are on the Boulder campus network, then you are undoubtedly already using these networks since our Internet routing selects the best path for traffic. Thus, if your research partner is connected to the commodity Internet, I2, and to NLR, then traffic between the two of you will traverse I2 or NLR because those are the best paths.
If you want to take advantage of the speeds available across I2 and NLR, you should at least be connected to the campus network at 100 Mbps; most wired connections on campus now run at that speed. If you have needs for large data transfers with other institutions, you will probably also need to tune the operating system and applications on the systems at both ends to handle the delayed bandwidth issues associated with transferring data at high speed over long distances. See http://www.web100.org for an example.
In addition to less congestion and higher speeds than the commodity Internet, I2 provides unique capabilities, such as multicasting and native IPv6. Multicasting is normally used in support of high-end video conferencing and collaboration, but can also be used for less costly applications. IPv6 is the next generation of the Internet Protocol (the current version is four) and it offers a much larger address space than v4 does.
For commodity Internet access, we share a one-Gbps connection to a network service provider in Boulder along with NCAR, NOAA/NIST, and CSU. We currently subscribe to 250 Mbps of commodity Internet access through the FRGP in Denver. Both NLR and I2 offer connections to many commodity Internet services and customers, and some of your commodity traffic may traverse those networks too.
Lastly, we have finally retired our last ATM-connected device (Asynchronous Transfer Mode, a communications protocol, not Automated Teller Machine) from the campus network. We often talk about never being able to turn off a service or a protocol, but in this case, we really have turned something off.
David Wood (email@example.com) is the program manager for networking for ITS.
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