5.18 Network Connectivity

Background

Campus-wide network connectivity was established in 1993 with the move to a centralized fiber infrastructure. Prior to 1993, the network was based on a de-centralized, ad-hoc structure. A charge back system was put in place to purchase network equipment and wire. Over the past ten years, the campus community has become increasingly reliant on the high level of intra- and inter-network connections provided by the wired campus network. In fact, for many, network connections are as important as phone connections.

Wireless connectivity (see 5.11.1) will play an increasingly important role in the future installation and support of the wired network. The relationship between these two forms of campus connections will need to be carefully evaluated now and when planning future implementation.

The advent of centralized network connections has expanded utilization by a wide variety of users. ResNet has been, and continues to be, a recruiting point for new students. As discussed in 5.11.1, a wired and/or wireless network comes with expectations. Users expect any network to provide maximum uptime/reliability, security, speed, and availability. These parameters define the quality of a network and represent selling points for SCSU.

A number of critical issues need to be addressed. Increased network capacity has led to increased usage without a concomitant increase in available bandwidth (see 5.19). Currently, the network is not redundant and would not be prepared for systems failure. This concern should be considered in the context of wired and wireless networks. Remote access also needs to be evaluated. On-going advances in network connectivity should be investigated in a timely manner. In general, with an increasing reliance on intra- and inter-network connections to handle day-to-day matters, from the business office, to advising, to delivery of classroom materials, it is essential to support, maintain, and expand network capacity to ensure robust interaction.

Goals

In the next five years, SCSU will

  • evaluate the campus network’s stability, reliability, and capacity
  • establish baseline standards for the network
  • develop an ongoing funding model that supports intra- and inter-networks to provide enhanced service quality and network redundancy
  • evaluate the cost/benefit of wired and wireless networks
  • determine the ratio or proportion of services provide by wired and wireless networks
  • determine campus community network needs for providing student and learning services
  • reexamine funding and plan for the next technology planning cycle
  • investigate on-going advances in network connectivity to better support the needs of students, faculty, and staff

Timeline

Staff from LR&TS, along with other members of the campus community, will form a committee to evaluate network strengths and concerns. During the 2003/2004 academic year, the committee will survey existing data (LR&TS has completed a study to provide wireless service campus wide) on network capacity and make suggestions to TLTR on resources necessary to provide a robust network environment on campus. As always, the committee should address resources — money and human capital, training, replacement cycle, access, legal compliance, usage, and costs/benefits relative to its recommendations. The committee will follow the standard timeline (see 5.0) for carrying out and reporting on specific actions.

Resources

Determining network budgeting continues to be complex. Networking equipment costs continue to decline, but features and software available continue to increase. Unlike computers slated for replacement on a three-year cycle, network equipment often must be replaced more rapidly to facilitate time/place features. The committee’s recommendations will need to include total cost of ownership projections.

Evaluation

  • Has an evaluation of network service quality been completed and standards established?
  • Has a funding model been developed to ensure a robust campus network?
  • Has a cost/benefit analysis been completed regarding maintaining and/or deploying wired and wireless networks?
  • Have the campus community’s network needs been addressed?
  • Have additional network features and functionality been investigated and matched to the needs of students, faculty, and staff?
  • Has the funding structure been evaluated and recommendations made for the next technology planning cycle?
  • Has the committee submitted a final report in Spring 2008?
  • Has the committee developed recommendations for the next technology planning cycle?

Revised: May 2003