Higher education gets better connection

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 04 Mar 2011

Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) is getting upgraded bandwidth and is replacing its main firewall infrastructure.

This follows the introduction of the South African National Research Network (Sanren) ring, sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology. The university is also replacing its main firewall infrastructure with a FortiGate firewall system.

According to the TUT's director of ICT Services (ICTS), Kabelo Bokala, the developments will ensure the full 10Gig national bandwidth can now be realised.

“The university has been upgrading its network infrastructure and standardising it in line with TUT's approved network infrastructure policies and standards for some time to get ready for the implementation of the Seacom undersea cable and the national Sanren.”

Campus experience

He adds that TUT's ICTS is continuously rolling out new manageable switches, and replacing the remaining unmanageable and non-standard switches to ensure maximum benefit from the Sanren initiative.

“The FortiGate solution, implemented in partnership with HP, will function both as a firewall and bandwidth management system, resulting in the university managing its own Internet bandwidth.”

The national backbone interconnects the larger metropolitan cities of Tshwane, Johannesburg and Cape Town on a 10Gbps fibre-optic ring network. TUT says 50 research and higher education institutions will connect or benefit from this.

Bokala says the implementation of the project has already started, with the connection of the university's Tshwane Metro campuses to the network. The Pretoria campus will serve as the major distribution point and will receive a 10Gbps link.

“This will see all campuses experiencing the benefits. The Ga-Rankuwa and Soshanguve campuses will still receive connectivity via the university-owned metropolitan area network, which will also incrementally optimise the use of the university's network infrastructure.”

Bokala also says old servers will soon be replaced with virtualised blade servers.

Wireless link

He adds that the rollout of new projects also includes the implementation of a wireless infrastructure and hotspots across all campuses. The first phase of the wireless hotspots project is expected to be completed by the end of May.

“In future, staff and students will be able to sit in the main identified areas and boardrooms, authenticate on the university's Active Directory and browse the Web. This will reduce the congestions in computer laboratories.”

The Ga-Rankuwa campus and the University of Limpopo's Medunsa campus will connect to the network during the next phase of the project. Discussions to connect the Soshanguve campus on the network are under way.

TUT says the e-Malahleni, Polokwane and Nelspruit campuses, which will serve as pop sites for Sanren to link other research and higher education institutions in the two provinces, will immediately be linked.

Double bandwidth

“The Tertiary Education Network (Tenet), which is an agency appointed by Higher Education SA to negotiate and procure bandwidth on behalf of higher education institutions, will manage Sanren,” says Bokala.

“Tenet has recently acquired more international bandwidth for higher education institutions through the Seacom cable. This has seen TUT's bandwidth double in capacity. The savings from this project will be used to acquire more bandwidth for the distant campuses,” explains Bokala.

Gerhard van Niekerk, head of Internet Services at ICTS and TUT's technical team leader of Sanren, says the link and connectivity are being tested.