UNE selects vendors for network overhaul

The University of New England has chosen NEC as the key vendor in its new campus network rollout.

The University of New England has chosen NEC as the key vendor in its new campus network rollout.

The five-year, multimillion dollar deal will see the university get a new data infrastructure, wireless network, security, e-mail and antispam software, as well as a firewall.

Under the deal, NEC's largest wireless rollout will see the company working alongside a number of other vendors including Enterasys, Fortinet and Barracuda for the deployment.

The university's existing network was installed in 1999 and, according to UNE's principal IT officer Gordon Smith, has "done a good job but it's really come to the end of its life now."

"The security measures are a little dated, and researchers are limited to 10 megabits on their desktop," he added. "The new infrastructure will give us gigabits to desktop which ties in neatly with our gigabit Ethernet, that's a major plus in terms of downloading and exchanging databases."

The new system will allow staff and students direct access to the Internet without having to go through the university's proxy servers and will allow greater usage of Web applications: "More and more staff and students want to use other software to carry on collaborative study with other institutions -- like Skype, for example -- the new system will allow us to do that," said Smith.

He added the university may adopt a VoIP telephony system in future.

"With the way things were any number of proposed solutions would have done the job," said Smith, "but the one put together by NEC was the best fit for what we knew we needed to do now."

In order to minimise disruption, work on the project is not expected to start until December, although the initial network configuration is underway in Sydney.

"We are planning to complete the infrastructure replacement by the beginning of the next academic year and expect to have much of the campus wireless LAN installed by that date too," said Smith.

"New functionality, like VPN and multicast, will then be progressively enabled over the following months."