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Preventing Future Bandwidth Blocks

Speedometer Bandwidth Blocks

Published September 2013

By Ashley Steves

“It’s the bang for the buck. The switches will be rolled out to where the most [people] will be using them first.”
Joe Pautler, Senior Network Engineer
Network and Classroom Services (NCS)

Last summer, Network and Classroom Services (NCS) began a project that will replace building switches throughout UB’s campuses, increasing building bandwidth and speed to the university network and Internet.

Network switches in nearly 90 buildings across UB's three campuses will be updated. A network switch acts as a controller, receiving and distributing messages from connected network links throughout the building and university as a whole. Once completed, each building will have a pair of 10 Gigabit per second (Gbps) network links installed, replacing the existing 1 Gbps links. Total bandwidth will increase to 20 Gbps in and out.

Overall, the project will do a lot to help UB’s Computing and Information Technology (CIT) group thanks to improvements regarding redundancy, resiliency and reliability. The update will increase the number of power supplies in each switch from one to two, providing a presently-absent backup if one supply should fail. It will also swap out the current Nortel switches with Cisco switches to accompany the other Cisco equipment currently used by CIT. The move will make many aspects of maintenance and support much easier and allow very little room for error.

Three buildings (Computing Center, Fronczak Hall and the Educational Opportunity Center) were tested as pilots during May and June 2013. "[Being in the Computing Center,] it gives us a good opportunity to be the guinea pigs," said Joe Pautler, Senior Network Engineer for Network and Classroom Services (NCS). "We're really sensitive to any network issue or blip, so we could notice it right away and quickly respond to it."

The pilot project was a success, and the list of remaining buildings has been divided into two phases. Phase one began with UB’s on-campus apartment complexes (South Lake Village, Flint Village, Hadley Village and Creekside Village) at the beginning of September.

“Everything is in place to 'hit the ground running' as soon as our semester startup/change freeze window comes to an end,” said Joe.

Buildings and student housing that require the most network connections will be updated first. “It’s the bang for the buck. The switches will be rolled out to where the most [people] will be using them first,” said Joe.

Phase two is expected to continue seamlessly once the first phase is completed, which is tentatively scheduled to end in May 2014. See the current schedule.