During the 2011-12 academic year, Information Technology Services will implement a series of improvements to Washington and Lee University’s network infrastructure, laying the foundation for continuing improvements in network speed and reliability.
“W&L’s network is at the heart of many critical services benefiting students, faculty and staff. This infrastructure project is an important step to improve performance and ensure that we can meet future needs,” said Chief Technology Officer David Saacke. “This new infrastructure will help us to support teaching, research and other work that increasingly rely on the network.”
ITS has purchased new switches, fiber lines and other core infrastructure, and regular network traffic will begin to flow through portions of the new equipment in November, 2011. The implementation will occur gradually and on a building-by-building basis. In each location, ITS will test the equipment, notify the occupants of the affected buildings, and then re-route network traffic from old switches and lines to the new network equipment, resulting in brief network outages over a period of a few hours. ITS is scheduling the work outside of business hours in order to minimize disruption. When the series of upgrades is complete in summer 2012, the core portion of the network will be capable of speeds of 20 gigabits per second, ten times the current rate. In addition, the configuration of the new infrastructure will be more reliable, providing multiple, redundant paths for data to flow if portions of the network are impaired. The immediate benefit for faculty, staff and students will be more consistent and reliable network performance.
Also in summer 2012, ITS will move its servers into a new state-of-the-art data center operated by Rockbridge Area Network Authority, in which W&L is a key partner. ITS servers providing critical functions will be housed in the new Richard A. Peterson Data Center, which will operate more efficiently and be more secure and reliable than the current facility in Tucker Hall. The servers store critical University data, including employee and student records and personal and shared data, and provide functions such as course registration, Web publishing, faculty and staff e-mail and more.
The new data center is a key component of a plan led by RANA to improve access to high-speed Internet connections in rural portions of Rockbridge County. RANA was launched in 2009 with federal funding and support from W&L and other local partners; see http://www.ranabroadband.net/ for more information.