Posted: Thursday Jun 19, 2014
June 19, 2014
Seemingly-endless rolls of wire are being unfurled across the Saint Vincent College campus this summer as technicians install miles of cable as part of a major upgrading of technology services for students, faculty and staff.
According to Peter Mahoney, chief information officer at SVC, five major areas of technology support are being upgraded at a cost of more than $1 million to ensure that the campus infrastructure is a state-of-the-art operation comparable to the best colleges and universities in the United States.
“First, Saint Vincent College is going to outsource its email services to Microsoft utilizing their Microsoft Office 365 software. This will provide every student with 50 gigabytes of email storage and 25 gigabytes of file storage which is exceptional. It also provides students with access to the Microsoft Office suite at no charge to the students,” Mahoney explained. “When students return in the fall, they will enjoy a faster and more efficient service. We know the value of the Office 365 service and have seen the success other colleges are having with it. Best of all, we are able to implement it at no cost to the college. It will also eliminate some current expenses for software license purchases and maintenance of multiple servers. We will only need one server to maintain our active directory of users.”
“Justin Fabin, director of technical services, has spearheaded this project and is excited about the benefits it will provide to our students,” Mahoney reported. “He is planning to extend the new service to faculty and staff later in the fall to provide better collaboration with students. It’s a social media tool so it could enhance or replace other forms of web-based communications. Students can build their own internal community with this tool as well. It’s an incredible value for the students.”
The second major area of upgrade is the total replacement of the campus cable television network. “We have decided to provide Comcast cable service to the students in all of our campus residence halls,” he added. “This will mean 111 channel selections including 82 in high definition. Comcast is very advanced with their research and development and will be able to provide a complete turn-key solution with a fully digital menu that includes Comcast’s Sports Entertainment Package, Root Pittsburgh, NBC Sports, Golf, Red Zone, ESPN and ESPN2, NHL, MLB, Tennis, NBA and many more.”
All-new coaxial cable is being installed across the campus but you won’t see an inch of it since it is entirely buried underground in existing and new conduits under the roadways and buildings. “Comcast is installing the newest technology currently available. By installing all new coaxial cable across the entire campus, utilizing complex horizontal drilling, they are creating new underground paths that will be valuable for future technological growth and infrastructure development. It will also help our needs for disaster recovery to ensure redundant cable paths are available in case our Data Center is compromised by fire or water damage. We will be offering top-of-the-line service with leading-edge technology that is advanced and well ahead of just about everyone else,” Mahoney noted.
The third area of upgrade involves the availability of wireless Internet service throughout the campus. “We are upgrading our campus infrastructure to a new system provided by Extreme Networks and MCPc, with more than 200 wireless access points being installed on campus using the latest industry standard. We are also installing all new fiber cabling and network switching equipment. It will be very fast and very high quality, providing our students with a first-class mobile computing campus. David Regula, one of our service desk analysts, has overseen the cable design and implementation part of the project and has devoted countless hours resolving challenges associated with a major underground wiring installation,” Mahoney said.
The fourth area of upgrade involves the doubling of Internet bandwidth in the residence halls from the current Internet Service Provider (Apogee). “Students will each be allocated six megabytes of memory and be able to connect up to five devices wirelessly to the system simultaneously. It will provide dependable streaming of educational data, music, movies and more. Apogee is the industry market leader in providing Internet services to colleges and universities across the country,” Mahoney noted.
Finally, the cell phone signal is being enhanced with the installation of additional antennas on the roof of the Latimer Library. “Some areas of campus which formerly had zero or one bar of service will now have three to five bars across the entire campus,” Mahoney boasted. “Both Verizon and AT&T services for both outbound and inbound calls and data transmission will be noticeably improved.”
“We are implementing five different technological enhancements that will benefit our students all in one fell swoop,” Mahoney concluded, “with the cell signal improvement, network infrastructure overhaul, Internet bandwidth increase, cable television upgrade/expansion and email outsourcing. We are fortunate to have the support of the college administration as well as the board of directors for advancing our technology services. We are also fortunate to have service providers which are generously working with us to meet our goals at minimal costs. We have done very well with providing an upgraded solution at a reasonable cost. We are ahead of schedule in achieving our technology goals for year three of our five-year strategic plan that is student-focused and educationally-focused. It will provide both a better technological experience for students and a better educational experience.”
TECHNOLOGY ADVOCATES – Chief information officer Peter Mahoney, center, is directing the enhancement of technology services on the Saint Vincent College campus. Working with him are Justin Fabin, left, director of technical services, and David Regula, service desk analyst. The College is in the third year of a five-year plan to ensure that the services provided to Saint Vincent students, faculty and staff is state-of-the art.
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