An expansive project launched three years ago by Information Technology Services to improve the quality of the Ithaca College computing network is now entering its final stages.
The Network and Security re-Architecture project, was implemented by ITS to improve network speed and performance for users.
Michael Taves, executive director of ITS and project chairman for NSrA, said the project started to renovate outdated technology and because of a need for improved network security.
“Several years ago, we were facing the situation that our network infrastructure was becoming outdated,” Taves said. “We were very concerned about improving our posture in terms of network security — securing the computers and information on our network.”
Since the NSrA project began, more than 20 buildings on campus have been re-cabled and a new Active Directory and new security hardware was installed.
The NSrA project allows ITS to control what computers on the network are reachable from the Internet, Taves said. He said this will prevent hackers from accessing secure files stored on computers in the network.
“They can still use the Internet and do all the work they need to do,” Taves said. “But other people with bad intentions will not be able to reach in and find that computer.”
Though many of the project’s changes are behind the scenes, some changes will be visible to users.
The new Active Directory, which took the place of Novell to store network accounts, became visible this year. Users now log on to campus computers using an Active Directory account and their Netpass username and password.
John Barr, associate professor and chair of the computer science department, said one of the project’s biggest improvements has been reducing the amount of time it takes a user to log in to the network after entering a username and password.
“Before, it would take about ten minutes to log on to the computers,” Barr said. “That’s 10 minutes of class you’ve now lost.”
The NSrA project upgraded all fiber communication links from one gigabit per second to 10 gigabits per second, which allows for improved connection to ResNet, the college’s residence hall computing network run by Apogee.
Senior Thillman Benham said he noticed major improvements to the Internet service offered by the college, especially with Web access speed.
“The free service that they offered was terrible when I first got here,” Benham said. “The free service essentially became the old service that you paid for, and now the service that you pay for is hyper fast.”
The NSrA project remains in the early phases of the user migration stage, Taves said, which involves moving all user computers to the new network. This process is expected to last until March.
The next stages will be data migration, in which user files will be moved to the network, and data server migration, in which the main servers will be moved. When these stages are completed, the project will be finished, Taves said.
Taves said he’s still unsure when the project will be finished, but it is expected to continue through next fall.
“With the data server migration project, we may do it in a very careful and gradual way,” Taves said. “We hope to, aside from improve security, have vastly improved speed and performance.”