RMIT University is upgrading its data network to support new, high-bandwidth services such as media streaming, YouTube feeds and videoconferencing for staff and students across 220 locations.
The $2 million upgrade will boost network bandwidth tenfold and provide the data network infrastructure to run RMIT's voice solution, which it purchased from Nortel in February this year.
The network upgrade will allow the university to drive high-bandwidth media streaming applications across its 12,500 PCs without affecting the performance of business-critical communications and media-intense research applications. It will also support voice traffic from more than 5,000 Nortel IP phones.
Executive director of IT services at RMIT, Allan Morris, said once the data network is in place the university will be dealing with one converged network which will be much easier to maintain than two previously separate data and voice platforms.
It is even more important now, he said, as users are increasingly using multiple devices to make voice calls, watch videos or access the various teaching and research resources made available online.
"We can now also launch immensely useful voice features like number portability and presence over the data network.," Morris said.
"This means I can connect my network device, be it a physical phone handset, software phone interface or even a smartphone running a Web browser, into any network point on campus - locally or overseas - and immediately have access to all my personal settings, caller groups, and personal extension numbers.
"Everything is managed centrally, all the way down to access privileges for individual users.
"Personal settings no longer have to be hard coded into physical devices because they're configured automatically whenever I connect a new device to the network. This gives us a great platform on which to build and evolve our IP telephony network."
Morris said a few years ago 100 megabits to the desktop was considered enough bandwidth for most applications, but today speeds of one gigabit or more are commonplace.
He said this bandwidth explosion, caused by the Hyperconnectivity phenomenon, has been driven by new types of users - savvy, highly mobile users that are accustomed to having all their digital media in easy reach and on any device.
"I can tell you it's not pie-in-the-sky because it's happening right here at the university,' Morris added.
Nortel A/NZ general manager of enterprise solutions, said any business-critical voice solution today depends almost entirely on a robust, high-speed and high-bandwidth data network to be able to deliver the best performance.
"This is particularly true in a modern university environment where thousands of hyperconnected students - in other words, students connectinng multiple devices to the network - are constantly pushing large files across the network while simultaneously accessing the Internet or making calls over the network on fixed and mobile phones," he said.
"Not only does the data network need to provide enough bandwidth for both data and voice traffic, but it also needs to have an architecture resilient enough to instantly recover from multiple failures for applications like real-time communications, where disruptions lasting milliseconds can have a real and serious effect on quality of service."