The first line of the newest ITS Networking biannual report, chronicling the work done in the first half of 2022, sums it up: “projects, projects and more projects.” Ryan Turner, interim Director of Networking, said of the last six months, “we have been extremely busy working on new initiatives, life cycle and capital projects.”
Over the past six months, ITS Networking:
- Completed the upgrade of the campus border connections to 2×100 Gbps and connected to MCNC’s new fiber ring. MCNC is the nonprofit operator of a communications network that serves universities and other entities.
- Developed a much-improved wireless design guideline for contractors working on large University construction projects. The guidelines are increasingly necessary for outdoor Wi-Fi coverage but are also needed for indoor wireless as higher density and throughput needs are expected with new networks.
- Created a network design for a new building at the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, including extensive plans for outdoor wireless coverage. Outdoor wireless projects, requested by multiple departments, are extremely labor intensive, costly and require significant involvement from UNC Facilities Services. ITS Networking hopes to partner with Facilities Services to streamline the application, approval and construction of outdoor wireless projects.
- Installed nearly 1,000 access points in Craige, Cobb and Ehringhaus residence halls. Over a two-month period, access points were moved from hallways into rooms to provide better Wi-Fi coverage. The 1,0000 new access points represent a significant percentage of the University’s 10,800 total access points.
- Collaborated with University Housing and Finance and Operations to design a network solution to bring modern technology to residence halls: smart washers and dryers. Students will now be able to view wash/dry status and reserve machines using an app.
Supply chain issues are still a primary obstacle for completing projects, but “we are about to see improvements,” Turner said. “We are beginning to receive large shipments of gear that should allow us to move back into a normal life cycle schedule in the next six months.”
Projects in the works include:
- Installing 6Ghz band wireless access points in the next six to nine months.
- Working with the UNC System Office to stand-up networking in a temporary office in Raleigh prior to a major capital project that will co-locate other agencies, including the System Office, in a new complex. Last year, the ITS Networking group assumed responsibility for supporting the network infrastructure for the System Office. The most recent state budget requires the System Office to move to Raleigh by the end of this year.
- Piloting a product called Clearpass as a solution for enabling users to wirelessly connect their devices to screens and displays. ITS Networking expects to finish the pilot by the end of the year.
- Upgrading campus distribution switches to 40Gbps and 100Gbps capable. Old patch panels are slowing progress. Panels need to be upgraded before installation of new switches. As a result, the work on distribution upgrades may not be completed until sometime in 2024.
For all the project details and campus networking metrics, read the full ITS Networking biannual report.