[Offtopic] Melb Uni 10gig/sec label switching network

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Tue Jun 5 22:49:44 EST 2007

Uni set to flick its switches
Nick Miller June 5, 2007


The University of Melbourne is poised to turn on the first stage of its 
$25 million IT upgrade - a $5 million core network that the university 
says will be among the world's best.

It has put to tender the project's next stages - a campus wireless 
network and edge switches to link departments.

Information vice-principal Linda O'Brien said the network will support 
high-end research such as the university's role in the Atlas Experiment 
at Switzerland's CERN particle physics lab that is searching for evidence 
of the "God particle" - why matter has mass. It uses huge amounts of 
data, shared by scientists around the world.

A better network was needed to link to the synchrotron, a firehose of 
data, and to support NICTA's Melbourne hub that researches terabit 

And it enables the university to switch to voice-over-IP, build a campus 
wireless network, deploy Exchange email server, power-over-Ethernet and 
quality-of-service applications.

Network manager Colin Blythe said the upgrade was needed three years ago 
when spending was approved.

"You can spend all you like on Exchange and a new student system but if 
the core network doesn't provide a good experience then people won't use 
them," Mr Blythe said.

Some departments were using the multicast network protocol for video 
streaming and to display images on lab equipment but he said it 
was "having unfortunate effects on the rest of the network".

Ms O'Brien said a re-think was the only solution: "Universities are in 
the knowledge business, pushing at the edges of technological 
possibilities. This is a concerted effort to invest in bringing the 
infrastructure up to something that befits a university of this kind."

The new 10 gigabits a second network will use Multi-Protocol Label 
Switching - the technology powering Telstra's next-generation network. 
Research, telephony, administration and student services have their own 
virtual networks, insulated from each other's demands.

"We are ahead of leading research universities overseas such as Edinburgh 
and UCLA, who have had to build multiple physical networks," Ms O'Brien 
said. "We can deliver as good if not better performance on one network."

The university will centralise management of its departments' local 
networks, saving money and providing consistent hardware and services.

The core network of 76 Cisco switches will be built and maintained by 
integrator Netstar. It will use its network management platform nVisage 
to monitor performance from its Sydney office.

But the project has been delayed. It was predicted to take three years to 
build when announced in August 2004. However, the initial network upgrade 
will not be finished until the end of the year.

The 18 core switches will be online by early July but the others will be 
phased in up to December. The full effect won't be felt until buildings' 
local networks are upgraded.

Netstar senior account manager Hayden Dunne said the delay was caused by 
the design process, not his company's implementation. "This is the 
biggest network refresh of its type in the education sector...and a 
unique solution."

Cheers all ..
Stephen Loosley
Victoria, Australia

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