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www.expresscomputeronline.com WEEKLY INSIGHT FOR TECHNOLOGY PROFESSIONALS
21 July 2008  
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Home - Management - Article

Peer-to-Peer

Assam University’s campus area network

Cisco has deployed a campus area network at Assam University delivering uninterrupted connectivity to the academic community there, says Vikas Bhadra

Assam University came into existence in 1994 to provide higher education to students, delivered through a multidisciplinary approach. The university has nine schools, covering major disciplines like social sciences, technology, management studies, amongst others, with 24 departments under it. In addition, the university has five districts under its jurisdiction with as many as 51 undergraduate colleges.

Business challenges

The university had no existing IT infrastructure. A technical committee consisting of senior scientists at the university, solution vendors, and other experts was formed to visualize a campus wide network that would enable students and faculty to access Internet-based resources.

Further, a LAN was envisioned that would provide non-stop connectivity and security to members of the institution from their respective departments. This was basically to facilitate rapid data transfer and ensure better communication between various departments.

The terrain posed a challenge as the campus (located in Dargakona, Silchar in South Assam) is spread across 600 acres of rolling terrain with hills and lakes and the departments are located far apart. After reviewing the recommendations from other systems integrators, Cisco and HCL Comnet were selected for the project.

Prof Asoke K Sen, Dean, School of Technology, Assam University, stated, “Although the other products were competitive and cost-effective, we chose Cisco because of reliability, reference and brand name. Cisco is the leader and since we are located in a remote corner of the country, we did not want to take any chances. Once the vendors were finalized the technical committee, solution vendors (HCL and Comet), and other experts got together and devised a road map or a consulting bill for sourcing material.”

Amit Malik, Vice-president, East, Cisco India and SAARC, said, “Our vision for Assam University is to enable them to create value for their academic community and offer high-quality education in the region. A network that is always available, stable, and secure allows teachers and students to use the network to enhance their knowledge and share information that creates ‘knowledge societies’. It also motivates students to explore and collaborate a wide universe of subjects and topics that are available online.”

The right solution

"Our vision for Assam University is to enable them to create value for their academic community and offer high-quality education in the region"

- Amit Malik
Vice-president, East, Cisco India and SAARC

Following detailed discussions with the faculty, technical committee, BSNL, and various OEMs, Cisco and HCL Comnet recommended the implementation of a LAN with fiber and UTP cabling. The implementation was completed in a single phase.

The deployment included a campus LAN, a two-tier architecture with C4507R (Cisco Catalyst 4500 Series) switch at the core with redundant supervisor and power supply as well as some fiber modules. This switch was deployed to deliver predictable and scalable performance, with dynamic quality-of-service (QoS) capabilities and configuration flexibility.

Malik pointed out, “The Cisco WS-C4507R (L3) switch was installed in the computer center as a core switch. This switch had a redundant supervisor engine which would be active when the primary supervisor engine fails.”

Further, the Cisco Catalyst 3560 was employed as the access layer switch combining 10/100/1000 and PoE configurations putting in place a foundation for the deployment of applications such as IP telephony, wireless access, video surveillance, building management systems, and remote video kiosks at a later stage.

“The Cisco WS-C3560G-48TS-S switches were installed at the computer center, library, boys’ and girls’ hostels and in departments such as MBA, life sciences, physics, chemistry, ecology, and administration department, amongst others,” added Malik.

All these switches were connected using fiber optic cable to the core switches located at computer center. RIP has been used as routing protocol for internal traffic (if a VLAN is created).

Finally, as security concerns were high at the university, Cisco ASA 5500 Series adaptive security appliances were implemented for perimeter security. These combine security with VPN services.

Implementation in a nutshell
Organization Assam University
Solution
  • Implementation of LAN across campus
  • Security and wireless solution
Aim of the implementation
  • To facilitate fast data transfers
  • Ensure better communication between various departments
Phases of the implementation
  • Single phase
Challenges faced
  • Connectivity n Security n Terrain
Business value
  • Benefits of richer, advanced, secure educational methods to members of the academic community in the region
  • A foundation has been laid, in terms of networking infrastructure, for the deployment of applications such as IP telephony, wireless access, video surveillance, building management systems, and remote video kiosks in the future

Evident benefits

The project has benefited Assam University immensely as it has enabled it to offer its faculty and students uninterrupted connectivity to enrich their teaching/learning experience.

Commenting on the benefits achieved, Prof Sen, explained, “The campus network has supported us well. With the features that were implemented in both hardware and software we have been able to maximize network availability, helping to ensure workforce productivity, profitability, and ultimately our success as a university.”

The LAN offers secure, uninterrupted connectivity and security to members of the institution from their respective departments. The deployment has ensured better communication between departments as well as facilitated fast data transfers.

This initial success has paved the way for a second phase that will include e-governance (wherein all the colleges under Assam University will be connected to the main campus) as well as more advanced technologies like Digital Media System.

“With this, the University can have distance learning programs where the lecturers can deliver a lecture sitting at the main campus and the same can be delivered to remote campuses. Similarly they can record these lectures and put them on a video portal where the students who have missed a lecture can view the same on their desktop or laptop,” concluded Malik.

The distance learning program will be of immense advantage for students, particularly in the North Eastern region of the country.

vikas.bhadra@expressindia.com

 


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