UCI Lightpath: a High-Speed Network for Research

lightpathOIT has built a dedicated high-performance network infrastructure that can help meet the needs of researchers requiring the transfer of a large quantity of data within and beyond campus. This network is called UCI Lightpath which is funded by a Grant from National Science Foundation Campus Cyberinfrastructure – Network Infrastructure Engineering Program (NSF CC-NIE)

UCI Lightpath is composed of a Science DMZ with a 10 Gbps connection to the science and research community on the Internet, and a dedicated 10 Gbps network infrastructure on campus.  A science DMZ is a portion of the network that is designed so that the equipment, configuration, and security policies are optimized for high-performance scientific applications rather than for general-purpose business systems or “enterprise” computing.

The initial infrastructure covers eight campus locations including the OIT Data Center where computing clusters, such as HPC and Greenplanet reside.  The UCI Lightpath network infrastructure is separate from the existing campus network (UCINet.)  The diagram shows the current status of the UCI Lightpath.

For more information of UCI Lightpath and its access policy, please refer to OIT website http://www.oit.uci.edu/network/lightpath/

 

OIT Year in Review

OIT has published a report on its activities for 2014-15.  Here are some highlights.

Strategic IT Realignment

Over the last 5 years, UCI has undergone a campus-wide consolidation of IT services while simultaneously grappling with unprecedented service demands. Organizational changes that had been postponed were implemented this year. Five new OIT “divisions” were established: Student & Academic Services, Enterprise Applications, Central Services, Enterprise Infrastructure, and Client Services.

Key Initiatives

OIT made significant progress this year on a number of initiatives in support of strategic priorities. Full details can be found in the online OIT 2014-15 activity summary page.

  • Infrastructure improvements

UCI started a major network upgrade initiative in 2014 and replacement of our 30+ year old telephone system is nearly complete. The standard email for UCI students is nearly 100% cloud based (Gmail) and the faculty/staff email managed by OIT (Office 365 or Gmail) will be approaching the same metric by the end of 2015.

  • Research and education

Thanks to a $500k NSF CC-NIE grant, we have established “UCI LightPath,” a separate “Science DMZ” network dedicated to research. UCI continues to expand the high performance research computing cluster (HPC). In the past year, 20+ smart classrooms and lecture halls in Engineering, Computer Sciences and Physical Sciences had technology upgrades and wireless coverage enhanced. UCI began a pilot of Instructure Canvas with a planned hybrid strategy which will augment our in-house EEE offerings to create a best-of-breed feature set for campus instructors.

  • Administrative applications

In July 2014, UCI went live with its new enterprise financial system (KFS). The implementation phase of a major project to replace UCI’s legacy student information systems with the Ellucian Banner platform started in January 2015.  OIT worked with a number of units in an ongoing effort to enhance other campus administrative systems, including Kuali Coeus Research Administration, UC-Path, business intelligence using the Data Warehouse (Cognos), Facilities Management service platform (IBM Tririga), and Electronic Document Management (IBM FileNet).

In Brief March 2015

latest news

  • Did you know the OIT Web site has a comment feature?  Click on “Site Feedback” to help us improve our on-line information.
  • Researchers are invited to join OIT’s new Research IT forum, available as a blog on UCI Sites and as a mailing list.
  • The Virtual Computer Lab (VCL) allows UCI students, faculty, and staff to access university-licensed computer applications via the Internet.

Canvas Pilot Update

Canvas is a learning management system (LMS) developed by Instructure.  OIT is piloting Canvas as a complement to the EEE LMS.  More information about Canvas and EEE can be found on the Canvas Pilot web site.

UCI’s year-long Canvas Pilot kicked off March 30th with the start of Spring instruction. The Canvas Pilot is an opportunity for instructors, teaching assistants, and students to use Canvas in their courses and participate in a formal assessment of the value and usability of Canvas as a potential addition to the instructional technology ecosystem at UCI.

Canvas was implemented for UCI during Winter quarter. During that time, the EEE team completed infrastructural development work including MyEEE integration, EEE assistants integration, UCI branding, WebAuth (UCInetID login) integration, and a data management utility to synchronize our campus Canvas instance with appropriate instructor, teaching assistant, student, course, and enrollment data for participating pilot courses.

We identified an initial group of early adopter instructors, created their Canvas course spaces, and (optionally) provided: EEE content migration, three-hour hands-on training workshops, as-needed support and consultation, and an informal pilot participant meet-up (this will be an ongoing, recurring event).

Participating instructors, TAs, and students were invited to complete their first pilot assessment activity: short, pre-quarter surveys designed to gather information on expectations and prior experiences in Canvas before the quarter is in full swing. Those surveys conclude Friday, April 3rd (end of the first week of classes).

The Canvas Pilot website (http://sites.uci.edu/canvaspilot/) was launched shortly before Winter Recess and has been updated throughout the quarter with new information, including a feature comparison page (http://sites.uci.edu/canvaspilot/comparison/), info for students (http://sites.uci.edu/canvaspilot/students/), a list of participating courses (http://sites.uci.edu/canvaspilot/participants/) and an assessment timeline (http://sites.uci.edu/canvaspilot/about-canvas-pilot/). The EEE team also developed and launched a new EEE Help Center (http://help.eee.uci.edu/) with a dedicated Canvas Pilot section (http://help.eee.uci.edu/canvas/) that will be expanded as-needed based on campus feedback and support interactions.

We coordinated a new component of the formal assessment in collaboration with Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences Professor Alfred Kobsa, who has tasked several groups in his undergraduate project class on user interface design and evaluation with conducting a usability evaluation of Canvas. Professor Kobsa’s students have previously reviewed the EEE website and worked with campus groups including the UCI Libraries and Distance Learning Center. They bring a fresh perspective and valuable skill set to this process.

As of March 26th, the pilot participants in Spring courses include: 6,083 students, 136 instructors, and 67 teaching assistants.

Next steps for the Canvas Pilot in the upcoming Spring 2015 quarter include mid- and post-quarter assessment surveys, student focus groups, info sessions (For instructors: https://eee.uci.edu/workshop/sg / TAs: https://eee.uci.edu/workshop/yg / Students: (https://eee.uci.edu/workshop/tg), and coordination with University Extension, the Distance Leanring Center, and Summer Session around participating Summer courses (both online and on-the-ground).

UCI’s Internet Connections Upgraded

connectivityOIT recently improved UCI’s connection to the Internet, increasing bandwidth from 6 Gbps (billion bits per second) to 20 Gbps. This upgrade enhances connections from the main campus, UCI Medical Center, and the residential network. The upgrade provides faster network access both to the research Internet and the general commodity Internet.

UCI connects to the Internet via CENIC, a regional network service provider providing Internet connections to California research and education organizations. CENIC provides two connections for the campus: CalREN-HPR and CalREN. CalREN-HPR supplies researchers with high-speed connectivity to other research networks, such as Internet2 and the Energy Science Network (ESnet). CalREN provides general Internet commodity services.

Last July, when OIT began work on the UCI Lightpath project, our CalREN-HPR network connection was upgraded from 1Gbps to 10Gbps with a 1Gbps diversified backup link. (Lightpath is a dedicated science network funded by the National Science Foundation). This February, our CalREN general Internet connection was upgraded from five 1Gbps connections to a 10Gbps connection.

OIT is also working with CENIC to establish additional fiber infrastructure between UCI and UCLA which will enable us to upgrade our diversified backup paths from 1Gbps to higher bandwidth. Our goal is to upgrade both backup links of CalREN-HPR and CalREN to 10Gbps in the near future.