March 11, 2018
NetOps Transformation
Carleton University

$10 Million Campus Network Upgrade Project

Carleton University is a Research and Eduction University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Based on new research funding, largely for the processing of the Hadron Collider data generated through the ATLAS project in CERN, Switzerland, the campus required a full scale upgrade to its entire infrastructure. There were areas of the network that could not even receive 1Mbps  Ethernet.

The campus consisted of a number of residence buildings, faculty and staff, each with their unique requests.  The research based faculties required their network and data to be isolated from the staff and faculty networks, with staff and faculty wanted hands off management of the network. The biggest challenge was that they were in the same buildings, and even rooms in some instances. 

Due to the recent SARS epidemic, the University was developing remote learning capabilities, and had recently launched a student portal that housed class recordings, ensuring even if someone needed to be remote, they would still be able to review the class when they felt better, or from their residence. 


Process & Results

Through meetings with each faculty and staff heads and the analysis of the current network, it was determined that the current infrastructure was inadequate and a new network needed to be built. With all the requirements in hand from the building owners and occupants, we developed the network requirements for the campus network upgrade, including a Network Management Systems (NMS) that would ensure the high availability, while meeting the desired outcomes and key results. 

4 new POPs were constructed with core routers, including new wiring closets in most buildings due to distance requirements, and a fiber ring around the campus network. Each building had 2 Distribution switches that connected to two POPs for redundancy. A traffic analysis was completed to ensure that buildings from the same faculty or frequent communication would be connected through the backplane of the core routers, effectively achieving a 1Tbps backbone, limited only by the distribution to core 10GE links. A new DMZ was created to protect university IT assets, and dual-homed Internet BGP connections were established in addition to peering with the ORION research network. ORION was a peering point for partnering Universities and Colleges, bypassing the general internet for research collaboration.

The network was staged and preconfigured with the help of HP, and the buildings were cut-over during the weekends within their allotted maintenance windows, ensuring no impact to the network users.

Wireless surveys were completed with a new Cisco centralized controller LWAP based network installed, covering all classrooms and indoor common areas. Outdoor mesh-wireless covering the entire campus was evaluated but deferred to a later time to keep within the allocated budget.