Network to undergo upgrade

The Campus Technology Network, which provides campus wide Internet access, will shut down Friday at 6 p.m. to undergo a massive upgrade.

Students and employees will not be able to access FAMU e-mail, RatterLink or WebLUIS search engines from any computer, on or off campus for 10 days.

“We want to position FAMU to have the infrastructure to provide courses over the Web and support the latest technology,” said Kwadwo Owusu-Aduemiri, director of the FAMU Office of Planning and Analysis.

Owusu-Aduemiri asked for patience and understanding as the network undergoes an upgrade.

Though shutting down such a vital research tool so close to the end of the semester may seem ill-timed, Owusu-Aduemiri said that during the Thanksgiving break is the best time to perform the upgrade.

“Only three working days will be affected for students and staff,” Owusu-Aduemiri said. “By the time students and staff return from the Thanksgivings break the network will be up and running.”

Robert Seniors, a specialist of computer systems at FAMU, advises those who need Internet access during the shutdown period to go to the public library.

During the shutdown, the “network core,” or home of the network, will be expanded to house gigabyte backbone technology, an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) or backup battery and the creation of two networks. All of this will help to ensure the network’s reliability, university officials said.

“The goal of the upgrade is to have the network running 99.999 percent of the time,” said Wayne Dunwoody, project manager for the upgrade.

Dunwoody said the current system cannot track system efficiency, but the upgrade should change that.

In 1999, Asynchronous Transfer Mode backbone technology, the technology that powers the network currently, was state-of-the-art. But technology has changed and ATM backbone technology is now out-of-date. The out-dated technology will be replaced with gigabyte backbone technology, which will enable the network to run faster, Seniors said.

After the upgrade, FAMU will have two networks, a main one and abackup. If the main network shuts down or encounters a problem the backup network will act in its place.

“The UPS will be effective on its own for 20 minutes. If power hasn’t kicked in within 10 minutes, the generator kicks in,” Dunwoody said.

“After 20 minutes, the UPS will shutdown and the network will perform an orderly shutdown, which helps to keep the system running smoothly.”

Since 1993, the network core has been housed in the basement of Perry Paige. The room is smaller than a classroom in Tucker Hall. During the shutdown the Perry Paige location will be expanded to accommodate FAMU’s increasing number of computers connected to the network.

University officials said currently, the network core cannot sustain the school’s computer needs.

“The core of the network will be expanded to a room three to four times larger to house all the core background equipment and to provide for future expansion equipment,” Seniors said.

The network will be up and running Dec. 1 at 8 a.m., according to university officials. Officials said the end result of the estimated $2 million upgrade will bring significant improvements.