Forum network upgrade this summer

It’s now very nearly five years since we moved into the Forum (time flies…), and in common with all our other computing equipment we now need to refresh the building’s network switches.  Rather than do the whole lot in one go, which would have had unfortunate effects on the remainder of the School’s equipment budget, we will be spreading this over the next two or three years or so.

This year we will be replacing the gigabit switches which cover roughly the west and middle of the building on floors 0-3.  These drive the “grey” cables in offices with port labels n/A/… and n/B/…  Offices on levels 4 and 5 and those with port labels n/C/… won’t be affected this year.  The expectatation is that we will replace the remaining gigabit switches next (financial) year, and the 100Mbps switches the following year.

This will be a major undertaking, requiring specialist effort from both COs and technicians.  We will try to schedule the work to avoid any known major events in the building, but will be constrained to some extent by their availability.  It would, therefore, be useful to hear of any dates which we should try to avoid.

The work will be scheduled in two parts, covering the “0A, 1A, 2A and 3A IT closets” and the “0B, 1B, 2B and 3B IT closets” respectively.  On this occasion we can’t break the work down into smaller pieces, as the old and new inter-floor links are not compatible and maintaining connectivity between vertically-adjacent closets is essential to the robustness of the Forum network.  We will, however, be replacing one switch at a time, with links to all the other switches in the scheduled closets being unaffected.

Technical documentation on the Forum network can be found here, and our upgrade working notes are here.

There are also minor upgrades to our core network in Appleton Tower, which should give us a faster link to EdLAN in due course; and we will be replacing one of our two switches out at JCMB, both because of its age and to give us additional features and connectivity.

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