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IT Answers on Latest Issues

network I recently emailed the SPSU IT department with some questions about recent issues on the network. Mainly the high bandwidth usage [url] that many folks on ICQ have asked about, the effects of the recent email virus attacks, and future plans for the campus network. Read more below to find out what answers Ron Skopitz gave in response. Note: please treat most info about future plans as tentative and unofficial at this time.

Q1) Why is bandwidth usage so high lately (according to Peachnet's monitor site)? In years past I remember peaks of about 90%, not consistently 99-100%. Would any of this be attributed to several on-campus, resident computers being infected by the latest email viruses? Or does most of the usage just look like standard web traffic? (On a side note, incoming and outgoing both look to be pretty high.)

A1) I think that infected machines are probably a major contributor. But, according to PeachNet, a large portion of the traffic is coming from users in the dorms using file-sharing web sites. At one point the PeachNet shut down our access to "kazza.com", and they claim there was an immediate 30% drop in Internet utilization! (which also accounts for the high volume of outgoing traffic) This seems to be a USG-wide issue.

There are also things we plan to do internally to help:
o We are possibly going to be gaining a bigger Internet pipe soon. I don't know how much (or even "if")
o We will be turning on web caching again. We lost our firewall machine to hardware failure a while ago. We have installed a more robust system, but we do not have caching turned on yet. This should help out considerably.
o We are investigating the cost of installing virus scanning at the firewall, and also of distributing antivirus software to on-campus student users.
o I plan to ask dorm users to be more responsible and "self-policing" about their Internet usage

Hopefully these items will prevent our needing to implement more drastic measures such as content filtering.

Q2) Is there any change in IT or SPSU's stance on internet connection to the UC's? What is the current blockage (political, technical, or monetary)? Likewise, is the new management of the UC's being any more cooperative with the IT dept or SPSU in this matter?

A2) We are talking to the new management about this. Part of the problem has been the repeated turnover in management in the apartments -- the new management is never aware of what was previously in the works. I am optimistic about this new group, since it is a completely different company. They seem to be interested in arriving at a solution. The previous company did not want to direct additional profits to the University to cover the cost of installation, management and service. Until a contract is worked out to pay for these service, the University cannot provide them. If we did we'd be using public funds to the benefit of a private corporation; the taxpayers tend not to like that sort of thing!

Q3) What's the status on current projects within IT? Mainly, the new SPSUnet Cluster, the campus information system (a tech fee request), the wiring of additional network ports in J Bldg. (also a tech fee request), and the status of settling into the new data center.

A3) If some of these items seem to be behind schedule, they probably are! We have been non-stop. This is, by far, the busiest we've ever been in my 8 years with IT, and it doesn't look like it's about to get easier any time soon. Since June 1st we have worked on the following projects: Building our new suite and the subsequent move; the hiring of our new CIO; massive Banner updates; building and implementing the cluster (9 servers and counting); the rollout of 10+ new additional servers including systems for Banner, PeopleSoft, University Police, IT, CIT, the campus security system, virus scanning, a Linux/VMWare-based multi-domain NT/2000 backup domain controller, and others; the installation of 60+ new PCs campus-wide bought with year-end funds; massive virus attacks; major cabling projects in building 'E', the new Architecture building, the new Facilities buildings, the Wellness Center, and the Gymnasium; etc., etc. :)

Cluster: it is physically complete. We are in the testing stage. We hope to roll it out some time in October. E-mail and EMUmail (hopefully a more robust and reliable version) only at first. We will probably look into adding new services later into the Spring.

Campus Information System: the approval of this request did not include funding. We will only implement if there are unused and/or unanticipated funds available at year-end.

The additional network ports in 'J' have long been installed.

Settling in: this is, of course, a low priority. However, once the cluster is completed and a few other things are settled I do plan to have an "open house". Maybe in November?

Bonus item: I plan to file a Tech Fee request this year to see if students are interested in implementing a site-license for Microsoft products for student use at home starting next July 1. The proposal will include student assistant monies for helpdesk support and CD-ROM creation/distribution, and a CD-ROM duplicator. It won't be cheap ($65K+/-), but it might get you free XP (no, not server) and OFFICE Pro, and possibly even Visio. If a student leaves the school they will have to uninstall the products, but if they gradate from SPSU they would be granted a perpetual license to use the products which were part of the agreement at the time of graduation (perpetual as in licensed for life), but no upgrades. Should be fun to try, regardless!

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 RE: IT Answers on Latest Issues

  $65K for WinXP/Office.

How about a couple of CDRs and burners... It has worked fine so far.

 RE: IT Answers on Latest Issues

  what is up with the network being so hard to use?
I have seen that most the time i try and go to ohter peoples computers on the network that it doesn't let me through. It stops responding or the user computer can't be found. What can I do as a computer user to slove this, or do IT have to do some thing?