Friday, June 27, 2014

IC Projects: NVC Point to Point Upgrade

Have you been to SU's Northern Virginia Campus  lately? If you have, then you know that they have been going through major changes in the last year to accommodate more programs, faculty, staff, and students. With increased users comes increased networking demands, and so, like the switch upgrade of 5/29, the IC networking team launched a project that increased the capabilities of the network, before the network experienced any kind of congestion from increased traffic.

But what actually happened?

I sat down with Ken Lambert this morning so that he could explain to me exactly why his crew performed this action.  Here's what he said:

Q: What exactly was accomplished with this upgrade?  
A: We did a few important things:
  • Vastly increased the amount of IP addresses that can be used at NVC which means, instead of the 2,000 addresses (keep in mind, each individual device keeps a unique address), we now have a possibility of 16,000 unique IP addresses. Each user has somewhere between two and three devices, and each IP addresses is generally reserved for a year. You would be surprised at how quickly these get used.
  • Each building on main campus is setup the same way, and now we have NVC setup in the same fashion. That means, from our administrator end, we can treat NVC the exact same as every other building on campus.  It's proximity to main campus really does not make much of a difference anymore from our end.
  • The biggest benefit to the end user is that they used to have a 20megabit connection through Verizon Fios, and now they have a 100megabit connection, and it has the potential to be increased down the road. This will allow NVC to function without any bandwidth issues even when they begin to add new video conferencing equipment, and hundreds of new devices to the network
  • We used to have a 35 millisecond delay between NVC and main campus, and now we have a 3 millisecond delay, it's incredible. 
Q:When did this project occur?
A: It has been discussed for awhile, we first made arrangements with Shentel last summer to put in a point-to-point circuit between NVC and main campus. We finished the project last Thursday (6/19).
Q: Was there any disruption of service?
A: Not for main campus. On the 19th, NVC had a disruption of one and a half hours. This was our second attempt at the migration. On the first attempt, we ran into a configuration issue with the new circuit which involved a longer disruption and then some work with Shentel to resolve the issue.
Q: What steps did you and your crew take to minimize the amount of disruption to services?
A: A lot of planning and preparation. We had to change the direction of their internet traffic, and that required a considerable amount of configuration changes to make sure it was running properly. 

Q: How long did it take you and your team to prepare for this project?
A: Logistically this was a tricky project because Shentel had to order a bunch of fiber optic, and had to install some of it over route 7.  Of course, this winter being brutal, Shentel was set back multiple times installing the fiber do to winter storms.  On IC's end, my team had to do a lot of in depth networking work in order to get this task accomplished smoothly.

From a technological standpoint, NVC is closer to main campus than ever. The NVC users will have access to a network that has much more bandwidth, and now a slue of new devices can be added to the network without issue!

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