The University of London has invested #65,000 in a new network from systems integrator ECS to replace a system which has become too unreliable.
The network will replace a hotchpotch of networking equipment which has been causing problems at the university. Last November one of its biggest servers crashed, putting the University in "a difficult position", according to Dennis Buckley, the university's director of student services and senior IT manager. The crash hastened the decision to set up a new network, he said.
ECS has installed a NetFRAME 8570 Cluster Server, replacing two large servers and one smaller central server, which were installed in 1992 as part of a system rationalisation.
The ECS setup has an Email connection, a firewall and links to JANET (the Joint Academic Network), a version of the Internet used by UK universities and colleges.
The new network server will be used in the university's administration department, which handles the records and accounting information for the 70,000 students currently attending the university.
Sarah Coates, the university's network manager, said: "We wanted a fault-tolerant, highly reliable and robust server to replace the existing systems." She added that the department evaluated several competing solutions before deciding on NetFRAME, but declined to identify them.
The university is now planning to move to an intranet within the next six to 12 months. "In the past we have had severe problems with the servers, incompatible software and an old, not very well maintained network infrastructure," commented Buckley.
"Because the network was unreliable we found that people were just not logging on to it. As almost every user had a different configuration to the desktop, it was impossible for users to either understand or use each others' PCs, increasing training costs and producing a very inefficient way of working," he said.
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