WIT gets up to speed with new network

28 Jun 2004

The Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) has installed a fast network in the recently completed IT building at its Cork Road campus. It is claimed to be the first full Gigabit-speed network in Ireland.

The building’s 672 desktops and servers are now connected over a network that transmits data at speeds of 1GB/s. The contract to design and implement the structured cabling was awarded to Irish company Kedington following a competitive tender.

Aidan McGrath, IT manager for WIT, said: “The institute physically covers a lot of ground; there are six separate campuses, multiple buildings in many of those and largely organic or ad hoc technology connecting them all together. With the new IT building we had an opportunity to create an impressive solution. Our mandate was for speed. And having dealt with the sprawling development of the existing network across the rest of the campus which resulted in a difficult to manage untidy design, we wanted a neat and tidy solution.”

Kedington’s director Willie O’Connell added: “Structured cabling is a critical component of any building and WIT was fortunate to be in a position to use the most advanced cabling in a Greenfield site. Like the framework of a building, cabling has to last for a long time. Unlike software, or even hardware, which is upgraded at regular intervals, cabling is there for the long haul. The decision regarding the cabling platform has to be taken, not just in terms of what the network will be required to support today, but what it will be required to support in 15 years.”

According to O’Connell, the Systimax Solutions’ CAT 6 GigaSPEED XL Solution and VisiPatch System installed at the WIT building offered speed and manageability.

The cabling infrastructure now handles traditional local area network data, but it can also carry video, CCTV and even access controls on the same channel. This reduces the amount of excess cabling required.

The high-speed network has also reduced by a factor of five the time it takes to upgrade standard software on every PC in a computer laboratory. There are 18 such facilities on the campus. WIT has also implemented a Beowulf Cluster – a number of connected PCs which act as one large ‘virtual’ supercomputer. The previous network speeds prevented this from running as effectively as it could have but now Aidan McGrath and his team is investigating the possibility of building a Beowulf cluster on the Gigabit network for higher performance.

By Gordon Smith

Pictured from left: Willie O’Connell, director of Kedington with Aidan McGrath, IT manager, Waterford Institute of Technology