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Network update improves speed, security

By Sydney Garrett     1/20/16 11:33am

Nine of the residential colleges’ wired networks were upgraded over winter break to a more advanced system that will provide better security, called Identity Service Engine. The other two colleges, Duncan and McMurtry, had previously been upgraded this summer as part of a pilot program, according to William Deigaard, director of networking, telecommunications and data centers. These changes do not affect the current wireless network.

“For now, this really is just an upgrade of our older network registration system,” Deigaard said. “ISE makes it possible to deploy newer services like a game console network, and we are considering development of this in the future.”

No changes were made to the wireless network, so only students who directly plug their computer or gaming console into the network port in their room will be affected. These students will be required to re-register their computers, Deigaard said. 

In addition to providing better security, ISE will make it possible to provide different levels of access to different devices, Deigaard said.

“Many gaming consoles want or need to have a direct, public connection,” Deigaard said. “Doing this, however, can create a security risk for other uses of the network. The ISE system provides mechanisms that can place game consoles into one network while placing computers into another, more secure network.”

This upgrade is part of the migration of the university’s network to RiceNet3, a major overhaul that has been in progress, Deigaard said.

“Performance is improved by the fact that every college network switch now has an uplink to the campus at 20 GB/s versus RiceNet2’s 2 GB/s,” Deigaard said. “[Also,] campus power outages will no longer disrupt the campus network. If you have a laptop or mobile device with a battery, you can stay online even when the lights blink.”

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