Networking infrastructure and services
Network infrastructure priorities
- Enhance service and reduce costs by integrating upgrades (recent and in-progress) in national, regional, state, metro and campus networks
- Enhance end-user experience through systematic upgrades of campus and building infrastructure
Tactical plans in support of networking infrastructure
Cut internet service costs by initiating “gigapop” partnership with Utah
Cut network transport and internet service costs by initiating partnership with USFS
Cut network transport costs and increase capabilities by participating in UCAN/Northern Tier partnership
In-state and campus-to-campus connections
Increase UMM/UMMT bandwidth; consider other campus connection enhancements as opportunities permit
Continue HIEM partnership to enhancement bandwidth to FLBS and other locations in NW Montana
Implement EPSCoR/CI project to enhance bandwidth to FVCC, SKC, MCC, and DCC, and general capabilities in Billings and Miles City
Enhance remote video conferencing capabilities
Consider other opportunities that arise through instate NTIA funding
Continue Phase One building network upgrades (Main Hall, McGill Hall)
Consider upgrade/overhaul to first generation 802.11 wireless, adding limited support for “dense wireless”
The UM-Missoula campus network currently supports with more than 7,700 individual campus connections and more than 2,500 connections in University housing locations. The campus network also supports wireless access in 20 buildings, including high-traffic student areas such as the Mansfield Library, University Center and Lommasson Center.
In FY09, UM-Missoula began upgrading network connectivity to various sites in Missoula that house UM-Missoula facilities - so called Metro sites. The goal in these upgrades is to convert Metro sites from the status of "special off-campus network connections" to appear to be normal building network connections, masking the fact that the buildings happen to be located non-adjacent to the mountain campus. This will allow users to move more smoothly between campus and Metro site presence, while also applying various standards consistently to both on-campus and Metro sites, from network details to security to connectivity charges.
This can be briefly summarized in terms of consistency with respect to four factors:
User Connectivity: Connectivity consistent with what is provided in "Missoula Mountain Campus" buildings -- a minimum of switched 100Mb Ethernet to the desktop, with higher speed connectivity possible if warranted by network load and supportable at reasonable cost.
Impact: Higher speed connection
Functionality: Network functionality consistent, from the user perspective, with that available in Mountain Campus buildings -- from the user perspective a Metro site should appear to be just another campus building, not a special off-campus site.
Impact: Facilities accessible only "on campus" now available
Management and Security: To the extent permitted by facilities at the Metro site, network management and security consistent with that on the Mountain Campus -- all network equipment (including wireless access points) officially owned by UM-M (not the site), managed and controlled by central IT staff (not site staff), and secured according to network security standards (secured closets/cabinets).
Impact: Shift in network operational responsibility from site staff to central IT staff
Fiscal Impact: Charge for on-going network service consistent with that applied on the Mountain Campus - a standard monthly network access charge (currently $6/month) applied to all connection points. Charges for site preparation, setup, remodeling, etc. determined on a case by case basis, which is consistent with Mountain Campus policy.
Impact: Shift in network fiscal responsibility for site from connection and equipment to simple per connection network access charge.
The Montana University System has traditionally cooperated with the State of Montana in the creation of a State contract for network services. The State contract is then used to create and operate a joint State/MUS network that provides the network links to the MUS campuses, state agency sites, and other state and university sites scattered across Montana.
The University of Montana currently secures the connections between its four campuses through the State contract. The current State contract also includes in-city connection options (so called "metro connections"), which UM-Missoula also uses to secure network links to sites in and around the Missoula area. The State contract is a non-exclusive contract, so UM-Missoula secures some of its links through other procurement in areas not served by the State contract.
Regional and national networks
Efforts to provide connectivity to the nation's high speed research and education network backbone for universities in Montana and other states along the Northern Tier have been under way since the mid-1990s. This was in response to the lack of competitiveness in the region's advanced networking capabilities in support of the educational, research and economic vitality of the Northern Tier region. The Northern Tier Network Consortium (NTNC) was established in 2003 primarily by higher education representatives from seven states - today the membership represents 12 states.
This regional network initiative is an attempt to provide a robust research network connection for educational institutions and federal research laboratories in upper- Northwestern states by creating a national backbone route across the Northern Tier states between Chicago to the east and Seattle to the west. Northern Tier Network Consortium state members include Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington and Alaska.