Appendix 9: Network Infrastructure - Teaching, Learning, Technology Roundtable - St. Cloud State University

Appendix 9: Network Infrastructure

Building a network infrastructure is most easily described by equating it to the building of our highways, roads and streets. The part of our infrastructure that we compare to highways would be our network backbone. Our campus telecommunications backbone consists of a cable containing thirty-six fiber optic strands connecting each of the thirty-two campus buildings to a central hub. Twenty-four of these fibers (24 of the 36) only have the ability to handle current bandwidth needs but the remaining twelve have bandwidth limitations far exceeding current and foreseeable technology requirements.

  • When the fiber was installed only six of the thirty-six fibers were terminated (fiber optic connectors attached to the fibers and connected to a patch bay) for each building. To provide the equivalent of an interstate highway that we will need to support the traffic many of the applications being proposed require, we will need to significantly increase the quantity and type of fibers terminated. We propose that an additional six of the lower bandwidth fibers and six of the higher bandwidth fibers for each building be terminated.
  • The telecommunications wiring within our buildings, going to offices and classrooms, could be compared to roads and streets, meaning that these pathways get us from the interstates and highways to other locations. One of our first priorities should be to insure that every office and classroom has at least one network connection capable of supporting current software applications. The Network Engineering Group has recently completed a study, which indicates that there are 682 offices and classrooms needing to be wired and an additional 146, which have been wired but have not been funded for connection into the network. We currently have over 2,200 network connections using twisted pair copper cable to connect offices, classrooms and labs to the telecommunication backbone.
  • Network equipment must provide adequate bandwidth to accomplish the higher level applications from anywhere at anytime. This includes video, multimedia, GIS applications and various intensive bandwidth applications.
  • Currently the campus telecommunications infrastructure does not have redundant paths. This means that if a fiber is cut between two buildings the telecommunications to those building will cease to function until repairs can be made. This could take one to two days depending of the location of the cut. We need to have secondary routes of fiber to critical buildings on campus such as Administrative Services, ECC and Centennial Hall.
  • We need to ensure that all network design and architecture will facilitate smooth upgrade paths.
  • We advise the creation of a Bandwidth Management and Network Use team to provide a clearinghouse for inquiries on adequacy of bandwidth to support applications.

An example of this would be when KVSC wanted to provide audio programming over the network utilizing Real Audio which is an Internet application for distributing audio programming. They assumed that there was insufficient bandwidth available. If they had known whom to contact, a test of network utilization could have been performed to determine whether there was sufficient bandwidth available for their applicaion.