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ISSUE 118 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 4/29/2005

Web speed will increase

By Jean Mullins
News Editor

Friday, April 29, 2005

St. Olaf Information and Instructional Technologies (IIT) is planning a two-part upgrade for the 2005 fall semester.

The first upgrade will be to install Internet2, a network which will allow nearly instantaneous connection with any other university that also has an Internet2 connection.

The second upgrade will effect the Internet connection used for browsing the Web.

The installation of Internet2 would upgrade St. Olaf’s connection, which currently connects the Internet to other universities, from nine megabits to one gigabit, making it as fast as any network on campus.

This will allow instant uploading and downloading of research materials between institutions.

In order to install Internet2, St. Olaf – in a joint venture with Carleton College – is laying lines of fiber optic cable from the Internet service provider just outside of Northfield, through Carleton’s Arboretum, across Highway 19 and up to the St. Olaf campus.

"It’s like extending our network up to the Twin Cities over fiber optic cable," said Craig Rice, associate director of information systems.

IIT’s other improvement will be to increase the amount of megabits available for surfing the

Internet. While the college currently runs on nine megabits, will soon increase to 12 megabits.

While most students will not see a huge improvement in Internet speed, many will see some improvement.

Rice said that while a regular home Digital Satellite Link (DSL) connection runs on three megabits, St. Olaf has nine megabits for the entire college.

The system allocates bandwidth in order to keep the Internet from shutting down, but many students and faculty have recently noticed slowing connection speeds, particularly at times of high use, such as during chapel time.

"We see the Internet getting slower because more people are doing more stuff," Rice said.

Along with the increase in megabits, St. Olaf will also be upgrading the Web server to run faster by adding more memory.

Also, people may have noticed Squirrelmail, the campus e-mail server, slowing down and often sending error messages.

Rice explains that this is due to the heavy load of users on the server.

St. Olaf will install an updated Storage Area Network (SAN), the device which stores all user files, this summer.

That upgrade will not only improve e-mail storage and make it more reliable, but will also improve students’ hard drives, or H drives – formerly referred to as the SVEN server.

The SAN installation will require that the network be down from noon on a Friday until 7 a.m. on the following Monday morning.

Installing wireless Internet access points in Thorson and Kildahl Residence Halls, updating the core of the school’s network and installing a number of new drives, will also make the network more reliable, Rice said.

The SAN, the new Web server and updated core should all be in place by the first weekend in June.

Some students may also have heard rumors about legal music sharing between students on campus. However, these rumors are false.

"Nothing becomes legal about that," Rice said. While some students can put their hard drives on the network, whether accidentally or on purpose, IIT does not monitor this. They do, however, take action if the student is reported to them.

Rice did note that iTunes, the Apple-created media player which allows limited access to other people's music through a Local Area Network, will be faster with the Internet upgrade as well.

As for students using computers configured to their home Internet settings, their computers may be configured to share their hard drives on the network.

IIT advises students to make sure their computers are not sharing music or other files over the network, as there are disciplinary consequences to such sharing over St. Olaf's network.

File sharing precautions aside, the increased Internet speed will surely benefit both the student body and the St. Olaf faculty, as well as campus administrators.

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