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Queen's University

Fundamental Improvements to Network Infrastructure


Our current network infrastructure has served us well for many years. However, with emerging technologies, new requirements, and changes to best practices, it is time to do a comprehensive audit and analysis of our current infrastructure in order to make some fundamental improvements that will serve us better both today and in the years ahead.


a graphic describing the planned changes to the network

A graphic representation of the network improvements that have been planned is posted on the ITServices website. (2.74 MB, PDF Files can be read for free using Adobe Reader).


The primary benefit of the coming changes is that we will experience a reduction in the total number of network outages. This includes unplanned outages that are a result of device, interface or link failures. As well, we will be able to perform regular system maintenance with fewer service disruptions.



Phases of Work


Each phase will build on the work accomplished in the prior stages. High-level planning for all stages has already occurred, and some work is occurring in parallel. The bulk of the work is planned for spring/summer 2012, but some pieces may not be completed during this period and will continue throughout the year.


1.  Core Switches Upgraded

On May 6, the operating system was upgraded on our two core network switches. As well, an older, third switch was retired and its traffic was re-routed via the two core switches.


2.  Configuration Audit

Before finalizing a new configuration scheme, it is critical to inventory and analyze the current configuration. As part of this audit, we identified approximately 15,000 network jacks that were active but had seen no network activity for 90 days. In order to simplify the task of analyzing the network configuration and planning the new structure, these jacks were deactivated on Wednesday, May 23.


If you require the use of a network jack that has been deactivated, please contact the IT Support Centre by filling out the online help form or by calling 613.533.6666 during regular business hours. There will be no charge to have any jack reactivated that was shut down by ITServices for the purposes of completing this inventory work.


3.  VLAN Redesign

A VLAN (virtual local area network) is a grouping of IP addresses. VLANs are used to manage the flow of network traffic, and there are hundreds of them in place at Queen's. The VLAN configuration as it exists today is not optimized for current needs. Many are older and may no longer be necessary.


Another recognized problem is that there are VLANs that span the entire campus. This means that if there is a network problem anywhere within that VLAN, its impact is campus-wide. One of the major goals of the infrastructure redesign is to reconfigure the campus VLANs so that each building has dedicated VLANs that do not span across campus. This will significantly reduce the impact of a failure within any given VLAN.


4.  Redundant Path Implementation

Redundancy means having back-up systems in place that will automatically fill in should the primary systems fail. Currently, most of our campus buildings are only connected to a single network core switch, in Fleming Hall.


Image of current core structure with all buildings connecting to Fleming Hall

Having all of our campus buildings directly connected to another (second) core switch, in Chernoff Hall, will reduce the strain on the first core and help balance the network load.


Image of future core structure with all campus buildings connected to both Fleming and Chernoff


5.  Improved Routing and Bandwidth Management

Completing the work of the prior phases will set the stage for us to optimize our network routing and evaluate how our current bandwidth is managed, which will further add to the resilience of the network.


Updated 8 February 2013



Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6 613.533.2000