Technology News

Information Technology Services

Challenges:

UNCG’s Network Refresh Plan was approved by Chancellor Sullivan in 2006, but it was only partially funded. Initially, the plan envisioned $845K/year coming from the Reversion Plan. In practice, it hasn’t been feasible to commit anything close to that amount from the Reversion Plan. In coming years, there could be even more pressure on the Reversion Plan from other divisions and, thus, even more reason to take steps to relieve that pressure. In addition, the 2006 plan included no funds for growth, including refresh of network equipment in buildings added after 2006.

Currently:

UNCG has 31,768 network ports w/network connection supplied by 620 active building switches (average cost $7,245 each, excluding installation costs). These building switches account for more than half of the total wired network budget.

Port utilization study:

A port utilization study this spring determined that 47% of network ports currently installed are inactive. Eliminating service from these ports would result in a 43% reduction in the number of building switches in the next refresh cycle (from 620 switches to 352). Because we don’t know how many of the 268 theoretically unneeded switches in fact will need to be refreshed (that is, the discount rate on 43%), and because of likely growth, we cannot set a precise cost avoidance target for Network Refresh Plan equipment and installation costs. Over a 10-year period, cost-avoidance for the Reversion Plan and ITS could amount to as much as $2 million.

To effect this cost avoidance, and to contain cost growth in the future, ITS will take one action and recommends two additional actions:

Action:

  • Implement a tool bi-annually to automatically disable network ports that have not been in use for the prior 6 months. At network refresh time, refresh building equipment only to the number of ports actually in use, plus a small contingency for growth. Allow port reactivation at no cost to the requester within the first 6 months of deactivation (no harm for disabled “dormant” ports). After the first six months, treat requests for reactivation like new port requests (relevant charges apply). → ITS to carry out, beginning 9/1/14.

Recommended for action as soon as possible:

  • Revise the service standard for faculty/staff networking from two 1 Gb ports, to one 1 Gb port. The existing standard, which has been in place for more than a decade, was written during a time when locally attached network devices (such as printers) and/or multiple computer workstations within a single workspace were the norm. As printing is shifted increasingly to larger printers, and as wireless connectivity becomes more pervasive, multiple network ports in every location are no longer needed. → ITS to work w/Facilities to develop new standard.
  • Develop a process for appropriate ITS review and approval of client networking requests in new construction and renovation projects for all buildings connected to the campus network. → ITS to work w/Facilities to develop process.