Published July 6, 2021
Connectivity is the lifeblood of our work as students, faculty and staff at UB. UBIT’s Network and Communication Services is always exploring new and better ways to deliver that connectivity.
UB’s network traffic is staggering—and growing all the time. In the fall semester preceding the pandemic, we counted nearly 110,000 different devices connected to UB’s networks, averaging 50,000 GB of traffic per minute on the wireless network alone!
Our first goal is to make sure UB can accommodate that immense amount of traffic, with infrastructure that is robust and reliable, even though what it means for a network to be “robust” and “reliable” change with our customers’ expectations, year after year.
The first step is determining what the current and future needs are of our campus community for network-related services and reconciling that with our hardware’s life cycle replacement schedule. We work closely with faculty, staff and students, hosting frequent discussions in town halls and focus groups, to help inform what’s possible from a technology standpoint.
One such project was completed in early 2020, replacing UB’s network backbone with hardware capable of delivering a tenfold increase in bandwidth; and, in kind, upgrading UB’s connection to NYSERNet, a high-speed network designed for research and education. Over the next five years, we’re planning a wide-scale upgrade of UB’s Wi-Fi, similar to 2017’s Wi-Fi Boost project. This upgrade will bring more access points to UB’s campus, and replace thousands of existing access points with the latest Wi-Fi technology. Those of you on campus will experience better speeds, and more reliable “handoffs” as you travel within buildings.
At any given time, we are also involved in a number of projects across campus to help research and develop new technologies that could play an important role in the future of our networks. This means, for example, working with cell coverage providers to bring new and better connectivity to UB, or contributing to research projects designed to leverage brand-new technology to expand network coverage to even more places (one such project, which our team is helping to manage, was just awarded a $300,000 grant to expand high-speed internet access into Buffalo’s Fruit Belt). We want to make sure that-,we’re ready to rise to the challenge and meet tomorrow’s demands on our network
This type of agility was critical during the pandemic. It allowed us to quickly double the bandwidth of UB’s commodity internet links to support learning and working remote while expanding our wireless access on campus into various parking lots and outdoor locations to accommodate social distancing.
UB’s networks are ever expanding, ever improving and ever evolving. I’m so proud of the initiative and thoughtfulness with which our network team approaches the challenge of providing this critical resource to campus.
Steve Heist is the Director of UBIT's Network and Communication Services division. He joined the university in 1992 as a Systems Administrator, and has since led multiple service teams as well as the VPCIO Project Prioritization and Reporting initiative in 2016. He earned his Professional MBA from UB in 2018.