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InfobITS logo, volume 8, number 1, spring 2002.


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Did You Notice Our Big Pipes?
by Jan Kawachi

We're referring to the network "pipes" which interconnect our UH campuses across the state and the world. ITS has installed new circuits and new equipment to upgrade many of the UHNet connections. This upgrade provides sufficient bandwidth to meet the demands of the University community, and improves reliability and accessibility of the network. These network goals are identified in the University's Strategic Plan for Information Technology.

Primary connections to the commodity Internet and Internet2, the high-speed advanced network, are now serviced by fiber installed by the Southern Cross Cable Network that spans the Pacific Ocean. With these new 155 megabit links, we have tripled the bandwidth capacity to access network services available through the commodity Internet and Internet2. The Southern Cross cable is fully protected and provides network availability of greater than 99.999%. The fiber cable is brought to shore at Kahe Point on Oahu. Verizon provides the University with the fiber cable from Kahe Point to the UHGigaPOP core router located on the UH Manoa campus. There is a one-way transmission delay of about 60 milliseconds from the UHGigaPOP router to the US mainland. Both fibers terminate at routers in the Westin Building, a carrier hotel located in Seattle, Washington, and both have secondary links to ensure continuous access to Internet and Internet2 sites even if there is an outage on our primary link.

Network connections have been increased 100 fold among the ten major campuses and five educational centers of the UH system. The ten major campuses were serviced with 1.544 megabit T-1 lines, most of which were saturated with traffic from morning to night. All the campuses on the neighbor islands, with the exception of Kauai Community College which has been delayed, have been upgraded to 155 megabit per second circuits. A new digital interisland microwave system and new routers were installed to interconnect all islands. On the average, the one-way transmission delay to UH Hilo from the Manoa campus is about 5 milliseconds. For Kauai Community College, a 45 megabit circuit has been ordered as a temporary solution until the microwave sites are completed. Currently, the original T-1s backup the primary digital microwave connections.

On Oahu, the 1.544 megabit links from the six major campuses were also upgraded using wave division multiplexers. This change allows us to take a single mode fiber that only supported one channel and increased it to support 16 channels. This upgrade was possible with the cooperation of the State of Hawaii, Department of Education, and University of Hawaii. With this technology, each UH campus on Oahu has two links. One link is a 155 megabit connection using SONET equipment that provides protection if one segment of the fiber is lost. The other uses Gigabit Ethernet, providing point-to-point links to each neighbor campus based on the fiber backbone topology. At most campuses, the Gigabit connection is currently stepped down to a 100 megabit link to connect to the campus router.

At each campus level, efforts have also been made to upgrade the campus network infrastructure to ensure that high-speed networking reaches the desktop. On the UH Manoa campus, traffic from each building is being increased from 10 megabit half duplex to 100 megabit full duplex links to two core switches that also route traffic to other networks. Eighty percent of this phase of the project has been completed. Packet filtering based on the Internet Best Current Practices for the Internet Community is also being implemented. Phase 2 will bring into operation a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server that will service the UH Manoa campus. DHCP will allow us to make efficient use of our IP addresses and reduce maintenance. This phase will be implemented during summer of 2002 when the DHCP server with failover capability becomes available. We will also complete full redundancy from each building switch to the two separate Manoa core switches after additional fiber cables are installed between selected buildings.

Although a major portion of the changes has been completed, improving UHNet is still a work in progress. We'll keep you posted in future newsletters as more improvements are made.


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Updated: March 26, 2002