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Network change improves performance for faculty, students

Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Sean O'Malley  

Recent changes to the university's network configuration appear to have addressed the slowdown faculty, staff and students experienced leading into finals week. 

OIT technicians have increased the amount of bandwidth allotted to core services like Blackboard and have begun managing Internet traffic to ensure that each residence hall user has up to 5 Mbps available.  Previously, the network had no such assurances in place.  

Although Chief Information Officer Brice Bible's original notice to students, faculty and staff mentioned Netflix limits, no such limits were implemented.  According to Bible, the new approach actually allows for full use of services like Netflix while ensuring maximum Internet capacity is available to all faculty and students.  Because the 5 Mbps download assurance evens out bandwidth availability among all users, Netflix performance most likely will be better now than it was before.

Before and After

The flat line pattern at 510 Mbps on the "before" graph below shows that demand was exceeding supply between 9:30 am and 3:00 am every day. During those hours, the Internet would have been noticeably slow, and some services might have been inaccessible.

Bandwidth consumption pattern before March 14

With the new quality assurances in place, demand is peaking around 490 Mbps, 20 Mbps below the university's total capacity of 510 Mbps.

Bandwidth consumption pattern after March 14

OIT Service Desk employees continue to receive general comments about performance during the past few weeks; however, trouble reports about Blackboard timeouts or specific Internet sites being slow stopped after Monday night's changes.

To help troubleshoot any lingering issues, individuals who experience slowdowns or difficulty accessing specific services are encouraged to e-mail a report to servicedesk@ohio.edu that includes their location (building/room or address), their OHIO ID, what they were trying to do, and the time the problem happened.

Next Steps

Chief Information Officer Brice Bible says that his staff will continue to monitor the situation and adjust settings as needed to maintain acceptable performance. According to Bible, equipment upgrades that are part of the NextGen network project will open additional options, including more sophisticated ways to guarantee access to specific download speeds, and the ability to purchase additional bandwidth, if that is the path the university chooses to follow.

Bible expects Internet demand will continue to be an issue in the future.  "The university needs to have a substantive conversation about how it would like to address this," Bible said.  

Related Links

Related Links

NextGen Network Upgrade 
Flood Watch: OHIO's Internet connection overflows