OIT Upgrades Interface to the Internet

border router

Border Router

OIT used the holiday break as an opportunity to upgrade the border router and campus firewall, improving network performance and reliability.  The timing  was chosen to minimize the impact on the campus community who rely on UCInet Internet connectivity.

Prior to this project, UCI had a single system providing the link between UCInet and the Internet, and this device was also responsible for providing the campus firewall service.  This represented a vulnerability, in that hardware failure could result in loss of connectivity.

The border router was also aging, having been put into service in August of 2003, and Cisco had announced the end of maintenance for this model later this year.

The project replaced the components within the border router, added a second border router, distributed Internet services between them, and isolated the firewall service to its own redundant systems.  Tests have demonstrated a significant increase in network bandwidth as well.  Now if one of the two routers should go down, connectivity will be sustained by the redundant architecture of the new system.

The current arrangement also makes use of Cisco’s Virtual Switching System technology, allowing the two routers to be managed as a single service.

An upcoming goal is to house the two border routers in different buildings.  One will remain in Central Plant, and the other will be housed in OIT’s SSPA network vault.  This geographic distribution will further reduce the risk that loss of power or other facilities to a single building could interrupt UCI’s connection to the Internet.

DMRnet Keeps You Up

chat logo

NACS and AdCom have jointly developed a network infrastructure for units with mission-critical computing services.  “DMRnet” (short for “Dual Modular Redundant Network”) allows you to create twin servers and to locate them separately in the NACS and AdCom Data Centers.

With this arrangement, an interruption in service (power, network, etc.) at one physical location can automatically transfer services (fail over) to the server in the other location. Users of your critical services will see no interruption.

DMRnet was designed and developed in response to the need to have UCI’s main web site, www.uci.edu, continuously available.  The upcoming Student Portal will be the latest client of the DMRnet system.

NACS staff are available to consult with interested departments on the options, cost, and fitness of DMRnet for your particular need.  DMRnet is intended only for the most critical campus services.

High Speed Academic Networking


CENIC Network

The Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC — http://www.cenic.org/)  and UC have been discussing a possible new network infrastructure.  The intent is to facilitate ad-hoc, point-to-point, gigabit research network connections among UC campuses and other institutions (including Stanford and USC) connected to CENIC’s High Performance Research (HPR) Network.

This new infrastructure would parallel the existing production network links and could provide two distinctive services: dedicated, low-latency bandwidth to researchers’ labs for special applications, and optical connections for network protocol development or similar activities.

A Zotmail to all faculty recently went out to identify those with needs in this area.  Faculty input is sought to guide NACS on how to proceed and at what priority relative to other network needs. For more information, please join the discussion mailing list high-speed-networking@uci.edu .

Meanwhile, if you transfer research data sets over the network, and the speed of doing so is impeding your work, we want to hear from you.  Please contact NACS at x42222 or email nacs@uci.edu .

UCInet Backbone Upgrade Complete

As part of an ongoing effort to keep UCInet up to date and able to meet the research and instructional needs of the campus, NACS is pleased to announce the completion of the network backbone upgrade.

The upgrade consisted of replacing and configuring the routers in the four core sites as well as upgrading UCI’s border router. Collectively UCI now enjoys a 10 gigabit (10 billion bits per second) redundantly connected backbone core, including two 10-gigabit connections to the border router and two to the Calit2 building.

Some schools such as Engineering, ICS, Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences, and parts of the College of Medicine, already have Gigabit Ethernet (1 billion bits per second) connections to the backbone and will see an immediate speed boost in some applications.

The next network upgrade project will focus on the “distribution layer” which will allow many of the remaining buildings at UCI to take advantage of the high-performance network backbone. In addition to the increase in network transfer speeds, NACS looks forward to helping the campus use this new architecture for future network protocols and applications.

After the current distribution layer upgrade is complete, there will still be UCI building network equipment and cabling that requires upgrade over coming years. NACS will work with the administration to determine a funding source and timeline for these projects.

Leading-Edge Telecommunications for Calit2




The opening ceremony for the new UCI Calit2 building has taken place, and UCI researchers are starting to make use of the high-end network and telephone infrastructure installed there — the most advanced technology installed on campus.

The Calit2 building is the first building where NACS has installed high-performance category 6 cabling to every communications outlet to support gigabits/second network speeds to the desktop.

NACS installed the highest performance and most robust network equipment of any UCI building to date. Every network connection in the building will support gigabit speeds. This was accomplished by installing Cisco’s flagship Catalyst 6500 chassis-based switches on each floor. Communications between the floor switches and the main building switch, as well as between the building switch and the UCInet backbone are at 10 gigabits/second, unprecedented at UCI.

In addition to the Internet and phone wiring installed in any new building, NACS has also installed a separate, parallel network infrastructure which allows researchers to set up their own special-purpose network connections. And, as the building becomes more fully occupied, NACS will position wireless base stations so that all points in the building have wireless access.

Calit2 also benefits from redundant communications equipment and power supplies, so that the network and telephone can continue in the face of most equipment failures.

NACS installed the first full-production voice over IP (VOIP) telephone system available to UCI researchers. IP phones connect to UCI net rather than directly to the campus Ericsson phone system. This results in some immediate benefits to users as well as opening the door to ongoing software development to create new features.

NACS is confident that all of this leading-edge network and telephone technology in the Calit2 building will meet or exceed the research requirements now and well into the future. Based on experience gained with Calit2, NACS hopes to extend similar advances to other parts of the campus in the future.