5.19 Bandwidth

Background

The Internet connects us to the world. This network operates based on equipment, wire, software, support, and a myriad of other tangibles (see 5.11.1 and 5.18). Reliability is frequently associated with the above, but speed is primarily based on bandwidth – the size and capacity of the network to move information between St. Cloud and the Twin Cities and allow us to reach the rest of the world. As discussed in 5.18, network availability has led to increased use, which in turn has led to higher demand for bandwidth. In other words, with success come problems.

Internet2 (a non-commercial connection among government, research, education, and selected corporate entities) is currently available. Internet2 enables the movement of large data sets and real-time video and provides many other opportunities. Greater access to Internet2 would considerably increase these opportunities. This and other emerging technologies may significantly enhance educational opportunities at SCSU. To accomplish these possibilities, additional bandwidth will need to be available. In essence, bandwidth is the raw material that makes effective transfer of information possible.

LR&TS has completed a detailed evaluation of current bandwidth availability, usage, and projected need. Also, SCSU has conducted a peer review on this topic. In the last two years, SCSU and MnSCU have negotiated additional bandwidth. In addition, recently Residential Life money has been used to purchase bandwidth for ResNet. Even with all this, by all measures, current bandwidth is not adequate.

In the current unstable funding environment, multiple avenues of bandwidth acquisition will need to be investigated:

  • SCSU purchasing bandwidth on its own
  • SCSU and MnSCU both purchasing bandwidth – developing an understanding of what MnSCU currently or potentially could contribute/guarantee
  • mixed usage/purchase with Residential Life money
  • and/or an additional fee structure to provide Internet access for individuals, departments, or other units, similar to a line charge for having a phone.

Goals

In the next five years, SCSU will

  • estimate future bandwidth usage
  • estimate necessary bandwidth need based on practical considerations
  • evaluate mechanisms to provided additional bandwidth to meet expected need
  • proactively factor bandwidth considerations into newer and emerging technologies which may mature in the next five years
  • ultimately, provide adequate bandwidth to meet the needs of SCSU educational and research missions during the period of this five year plan

Specific Actions/Timeline

The immediate need for bandwidth may require the accelerated acquisition of additional bandwidth for the fall 2003. The Information Technology Services (ITS) working group within LR&TS has completed a comprehensive analysis of the current situation. It would seem reasonable for this group to put forth a recommendation to TLTR before May 1, 2003, for bandwidth need for 2003/2004. The Dean of LR&TS could take the evaluated recommendations to the Provost for implementation in summer 2003.

Having addressed the immediate need for bandwidth, TLTR will constitute a committee in fall 2003 to evaluate SCSU’s current and future needs for bandwidth. This committee should rely on the technologists in ITS as members and consultants to carry out their mandate. The timeline illustrated in 5.0 will be used to provide recommendations beyond this next academic year.

The committee will need to evaluate current usage, future need, support, training, infrastructural components, new and emerging technologies, and a model to provide appropriate and reliable bandwidth to the widest possible user set.

Resources

Resources currently available for bandwidth must be supplemented with additional resources to provide adequate connectivity to meet the campus community’s needs. The quantity of resources remains to be determined, based on the findings of the committee.

Developing a mechanism to prioritize resource acquisition is essential. We must have a way to understand the interrelatedness of technology. Acquiring technology without appreciating the scope of that decision means we gather hardware and software and the associated ancillaries in a vacuum. We must be able to determine that by adding bandwidth, x, y, and z will be possible. Acquiring x, y, and z will be of no value without additional bandwidth. This is only one example of the complex interplay between multiple competing technology components. With ever expanding possibilities, one of the greatest challenges in technology planning is trying to determine what is important at the base of the technology and then what is possible given that base. In fact, it is not just about the base but how big the base must be to accomplish the organization’s mission.

Evaluation

  • Have essential bandwidth needs been evaluated based on projected applications?
  • Have mechanisms to provide additional bandwidth been recommended?
  • Has action on recommendations resulted in adequate bandwidth availability for a majority of the campus community?
  • Have newer and emerging technologies been evaluated for bandwidth requirements?
  • Has increasing availability of bandwidth during the period of this technology plan provided for the majority of the needs to meet SCSU educational and research missions?
  • Have the recommendations of the peer review been considered?
  • Has the committee submitted a final report to TLTR in the spring of 2008?
  • Has the committee, in the spring of 2008, forwarded recommendations for the next cycle of technology planning?

Revised: May 2003