When the first University of Maryland (UMD) students came to campus with web-accessible phones, Tripti Sinha knew it wasn’t a fad. The university network needed an upgrade, and quickly.
So Sinha, the research university’s director of networking and telecommunications services, along with a team of the campus’s IT experts, set out on a five-year “network refresh” that would do more than just let students and faculty use the internet on their smart phones.
Two statistics jumped out to IT decision makers like Sinha when the project was in its planning stages: 70 percent of the university network’s equipment was considered obsolete, and 80 percent of campus buildings lacked the wiring to support up-to-date network speeds.
The network refresh also aimed to bring UMD in line with state and federal security mandates, Sinha said.
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The university’s new network will have firewall service for every campus department, wired network authentication, and equipment mandated in the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, a 1994 federal law that allows law enforcement to more easily conduct electronic surveillance.
The massive campus-wide upgrade, which will involve more than 270 buildings, was launched in 2008, Sinha said. The $61-million undertaking will be completed by 2014.
Sinha said that while it was clear that laptops would become commonplace among college students, it was the proliferation of smart phones that led to a boom in the number of internet-accessible devices on campus.