The University Record, June 5, 2000

Network upgrades completed

By Wanda Monroe
Office of the Chief Information Officer

The first steps of the University’s plan to upgrade its campus “backbone” network have been completed, increasing the capacity (bandwidth) that is available for carrying electronic information to and from computers. The backbone connects all data networks on campus and enables the University community to access networking services such as electronic mail and the World Wide Web.

The upgrades mean a faster data transfer and improved network performance for most individuals who use computing resources on campus. Prior to the upgrades, the campus’ backbone utilization rate was running close to 100 percent during peak traffic hours, causing delays in the transfer of electronic information. Now, less than 25 percent of the capacity is used during peak hours.

“The demand for bandwidth at the University has increased exponentially over the past few years,” says Josť-Marie Griffiths, university chief information officer. “The additional use was straining our network’s capacity and slowing response time. It is essential that we continuously improve our technology environment to provide reliable and available access to members of the University community.”

Completion of the upgrades to the three Ann Arbor campus backbone networks enabled a high-speed connection to the Internet that will allow Internet2 access. The link between three University networks to the Internet, through Merit Network Inc., was completed when an OC12 pipe that carries 622 megabits of data was installed. The OC12 pipe is much faster than the previous connection and allows for improved, high-speed data flow.

“Our final test period went so well that we brought the new backbone online five days ahead of schedule,” says Dan Kjos, director of engineering and operations, IT Communications Services. “Feedback from our users on the network’s performance has been very positive. I am very impressed by how well the upgrade team worked together to complete this project prior to its planned completion date.”

The upgrades dramatically improve the network backbone that supplies connections to local networks at the University. The changes will be most obvious when U-M users communicate with other sites attached to Internet2/Abilene. Upgrades to local area networks will be completed in the next phases of the upgrade plan. Further upgrades to backbone capacity also are in the planning stage.

Network traffic on the Internet external to the University may contribute to occasional slower response time due to bottlenecks outside the University’s control.

For more information on the network upgrades, visit the Web at www.itcom.itd.umich.edu/i2/.