Author Archives: Michael Lynch

Wireless in the dorms

There are approximately 60 buildings classified as dorms here at Middlebury providing beds to over 2400 students in 5 Commons.  From a ‘wireless’ perspective these dorms can be divided into three broad groups in terms of how many Wireless Access Points or WAPs they have:

  1. those that have moderate coverage
  2. those that have minimal coverage, typically in lounges only
  3. smaller houses that require only one or two WAPs

As mentioned in a previous blog post, LIS has embarked on an ambitious project to upgrade the campus network infrastructure, including improving wireless in the dorms.  All dorms are currently getting new network switches added to their wire closets to prepare for phase two, the deployment of new WAPs.  Dorms in the first group above (and gradually those in the third group as well) are getting all of their old WAPs replaced with newer equipment, while dorms in the second group are getting new WAPs deployed throughout. Dorms in the first group will be re-visited later on to determine if there are still gaps in the wireless coverage.

As an example, Hadley, Milliken, Kelly-Lang and Stewart are in group 1.  These dorms have had all of their old WAPs upgraded.  Hepburn is an example of group 2.  It has had new WAPs installed throughout the dorm.

Atwater A & B, Gifford, Battell, and Chateau are in progress now.  New switches have also been placed but not yet connected in Coffrin, Pearsons, Starr and Painter, which will also need new WAPs installed.

As you might imagine, this is an enormous task requiring lots of planning and coordination.  Please bear with us as we try to do this with minimal interruption to your access to the network!

Two new staff in Central Systems & Network Services

Please welcome two new staff members in CSNS:

  • Ian Burke started November 29th as our new Network Security Administrator; he is also on the LIS Security Team.  Ian comes most recently from Amherst, NH and was a Security Engineer for TJX in Framingham MA.
  • Jim Stuart started December 8th as System Programmer/Administrator.  Jim was Chief Technology Officer for Qvault, Inc. here in Vermont.   He previously worked here at Middlebury from 1993-1999 in various positions in ITS, prior to the merger which created LIS.

Marcy moving to Enterprise Applications

Danna Gianforte and I (Area Directors for Enterprise Applications and Central Systems & Network Services, respectively) recently agreed to a staffing change.  Marcy Smith is now a member of the Enterprise Applications area.  We believe that having the soon-to-be-hired Database Administrator (DBA) and the Enterprise Systems Administrator (aka Marcy) reporting to the same Area Director will:

  • streamline communications
  • remove roadblocks in the workflow
  • improve service to the functional areas

Central Systems & Network Services will continue to work closely with Marcy, as we do with all of Enterprise Applications staff.  Marcy will be moving to the Davis Family Library at some point, but the details of that move have not been finalized.

I enjoyed having Marcy in my area and certainly learned a lot about Banner and just how complicated it all is from her!  All of us in CS & NS look forward to continuing to work with Marcy.  In fact, the looming upgrade to Oracle 11G will give us plenty of opportunity.  But that’s a subject for another post…

Did the network just get faster?

Generally LIS only hears about it when our systems aren’t responding quickly enough or aren’t working at all.  We almost never get a call saying, “Gee, the servers have been up for a very long time without crashing!” or “My gosh, our network is extremely reliable and response time has been really fast lately!”  Nevertheless, we continue to work very hard to keep everything running and at top speed.  We regularly make improvements behind the scenes to benefit the whole community.  One recent such improvement was a doubling of the size of our primary Internet connection.

The College maintains two connections to the Internet: our primary connection is via Level 3 Communications, while Vermont traffic (and failover protection) is supported by a local provider named TelJet.   (Both Seven Days and the Burlington Free Press have recently run favorable articles on TelJet.)

Anticipating continuing, steep growth in our network traffic, LIS requested some time ago that Level 3 increase our bandwidth from 200 Mbps to 500 Mbps.  (Our TelJet connection is at 100 Mbps.)  Just last month, Level 3 completed the upgrade.  While you may not have noticed the increased speed on your desktop, you can rest assured that, at least for the time being, the tubes connecting Middlebury to the outside should be big enough to support your academic needs.

Stay tuned to this blog to learn of other plans we have for improving and expanding the campus network!

Outline for Security Presentation

Google Apps Evaluation Outline
Topic – Security
Jeff Lahaie – Exchange Presenter, Dave Guertin – Google Presenter, Mike Lynch – Moderator
Thursday September 2, 10:00-11:00 LIB145

1)    Our definition of security – Prevention of access or abuse of personal or confidential data or underlying services by sources other than those allowed/authorized to access such.
2)    Physical security.  Benefits or drawbacks to in house versus hosted equipment to store data on.
3)    Software system security.  What benefits does the Exchange configuration or Google Apps have to secure the data from invasion?
4)    User security.  What benefits are there to the end user and what needs to be done to educate them of said benefits.
5)    What happens if there is a breach? What roles do email admins play in each system?