Information Technology Services (ITS)

The power of redundancy

Published on: June 8, 2018

Redundancy – the word has many different connotations. But here, at the University of Toronto in Information Technology Services, there is a lot of power and resiliency behind that word. It means a better user experience and a stronger network. An example of how improvements to the university’s wide area network (WAN) redundancy paid off can be seen in the recent network link outage that occurred between the university’s St. George campus and the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC).

The network link (Cogeco) between UTSC and St. George was damaged by a cut fibre sustained during construction work at Parliament and Gerrard on the morning of May 15, 2018. The outage lasted 12 hours. But because of a second link (Bell) that was built and put in place through collaboration and recommendations by the enterprise infrastructure solutions team and information and instructional technology services (UTSC) back in 2016, all systems were go. The second link allowed academic life and business to carry on as usual:

  • Students accessed online exams
  • Instructors and students used the Blackboard portal for course material
  • Information flowed freely between UTSC and St. George campuses
  • All enterprise systems (financial and human resources) and email remained operational

Patrick Hopewell, director, enterprise infrastructure solutions (EIS) said, “The efforts put into the network resiliency project were an important investment and mitigated the potential for lost productivity and reputational damage. There was no impact on students, staff or faculty.”

Zoran Piljevic, director, information and instructional technical services at UTSC said, “In 2012, before the second network link was put in, a damaged link caused the network at UTSC to grind to a halt for a whole day as all systems were down. That scenario is no longer a concern now that the university has two fully functional 10 gigabit WAN links between UTSC and the St. George campus.”

Similarly, two 10 gigabit WAN links exist between St. George campus and the Mississauga campus (UTM).

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