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New Network, Related Wiring Schedule, and Planned Outages - October 6, 2015

From the point that the new Cisco network contract was finalized in early summer, Information Services has been hard at work preparing for the implementation of our new network.  We have completed the high level design for the network core, security, and data center layers of our new network, and have begun the low level design.  We have created a network test lab, and completed implementing new network components in 12 pilot "proof-of-concept" buildings that represent the types of buildings we will be dealing with over the coming months as we implement the new network.
 
Getting the new network up and running requires the following additional work: installing, configuring, testing, and switching over to the new network core switches (core switches are the main brains of the network); installing, configuring, testing, and switching over to new data center network components (to which are attached servers that host applications that many of you use); implementing new security appliances (such as firewalls); rewiring some buildings that have very old network cabling; and installing new network switches in the campus buildings (think of network switches in campus buildings as local data traffic cops).
 
Each of these activities will require the network to be down for various amounts of time over the next eight to nine months.  The implementation of the new network core switches will require the entire network to be down for a short period of time.  The implementation of new data center network switches will require various servers to be down for short periods of time.  The implementation of new network switches into buildings will require that small parts of our network will be down for short periods of time.  For all of the outages associated with the servers and buildings, we will work to the best of our ability to coordinate planned outage times with the affected users to minimize disruptions to their everyday work life.
 
Additionally, we will need to "freeze" in place the current network and data center design.  This freeze will affect a very small number of users: only those who plan on implementing a new server within the next three months.  This freeze will begin on October 23rd, and last until January 3rd.
 
The dates of the planned outages may be found in the tables in the FAQ section of this email.  They may also be found on the website for this project, which is:
 
https://it.scu.edu/about/networkupgrade
 
Please be aware that the dates listed represent our best estimates and projections, but are subject to change.  We will let you know if the dates change.
 
At this point, we anticipate only one all-network outage, which will be from 7:00 PM -- 11:00 PM on Saturday, November 21st.  If we need to schedule additional all-network outages, we will notify you of the outage as far in advance as possible.  It is worth noting that there will be a number of outages for data center servers over the Christmas break; we deliberately scheduled these outages during this time to minimize disruption to our user community.  As previously mentioned, we will reach out to the managers of these servers and affected user communities prior to any servers going down.
 
A quick glance at the schedule will indicate that there are many buildings, and literally hundreds of networking components, in play.  A great deal of thought and effort went into creating this schedule.  Sequencing in a project of this size is essential and critical to the success of the project.  As such, the schedule needs to stay pretty much as it is outlined.
 
Regarding the schedule, we have already begun surveying campus buildings to prepare for the implementation of the new network into those buildings.  This basically means that we will be walking around inside of buildings to inspect various network and wiring components.  The vast majority of this type of surveying should be unobtrusive; at most, we may need to look inside an office or classroom to inspect a network jack.  As previously noted, you can find out when your building will be surveyed by looking at the FAQ section of this email.
 
Some buildings will need to have new networking cables pulled throughout the building.  The schedule in the FAQ section notes whether or not this is required for your building.  If this is required in your building, there will be a brief period of time -- usually no more than a week -- where we might need to have some cabling dangling down from the ceilings, and where there might be some "mess" in the building.  Even though it might look a little unsightly for a few days, your existing network connection should still work.  We will attempt to schedule the switch-over to the new cabling during off-hours.
 
As noted earlier, we have tried to schedule activities to minimize disruption to our user community.  The majority of work will occur during the evenings and on weekends.  That being said, there will be times when we will need to conduct network implementation activities during the normal business day.  We will try to keep this to a minimum, and will alert you in advance when we need to do so.
 
With a project of this size and scope, not everything will work perfectly or unfold as it should.  There will be mess, schedule changes, and unforeseen challenges.  When things don't go as they should or as planned, you have our commitment that we will work quickly and diligently to rectify any problems or issues that arise.
 
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the work of the IS staff -- particularly the networking group -- who have put in many long hours to date, and have many more long hours in front of them.  In order to expedite this project, I put a call out to the non-networking IS staff to see if any of them would be willing to work on evenings and weekends (in addition to doing their regular day jobs) and enough people answered the call that we have 10 building switch deployment teams that will be out and about on any given weekend installing new network equipment into buildings.  This is an extraordinarily large and complex project, and my team has already gone above and beyond in their efforts to provide you with the best network possible as quickly as possible.  You can count on us to continue to do the same.
 
I wish to thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as we undertake this networking project that, once completed, will give us a network on a par with Stanford and Berkeley.