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Network Upgrades at the MMTO


By admin - Posted on 10 May 2012

Over the past year, the MMTO mountain facilities and campus offices have undergone network upgrades.  Completed upgrades include: CAT 6 cabling; installation of CISCO gigabit network switches and CISCO wireless routers for mountain operations; upgrade of microwave link between the campus office and the summit; installation of fiber connections between the network switch within the MMTO drive room and 2nd and 3rd floors; VOIP phones at the MMT/summit; and segregating Univ. of Arizona, Smithsonian Institution, and MMTO network traffic. For more details, click on the title above.

The upgrades were a combined effort between the MMTO, the University of Arizona (UofA) University Information Technology Services (UITS), the Smithsonian Institution (SI)/Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory (FLWO), and the SI/Information Technology Operations, based in the Washington, DC area (SI/Washington).

-The entire MMTO mountain facilities and campus offices have been recabled for CAT 6 (i.e., gigabit ethernet) network.  UITS has upgraded their University backbone Cisco switches to which all MMT operations, SI/Campus, and SI/FLWO are now connected. The MMTO is now operating with full gigabit ethernet throughout its operations, both downtown and at the summit. All downtown computers, printers and network devices are connected directly to Cisco UITS gigabit network switches. All mountain computers, printers, and network devices are connect to Cisco SI gigabit switches.

-New CISCO gigabit network switches have been installed for MMTO mountain operations. With the new cabling and switches, it has enabled data exchange at the MMTO to be approximately 10 times faster than before. The MMTO is able to directly monitor network activity on a port-by-port basis for these switches through command-line and web-based interfaces.

-New Cisco wireless routers have been deployed at the summit. Plans for FY2013 include completely covering the MMT building and summit area with high quality wireless signal. Plans are underway to install new Cisco wireless access points and Cisco wireless VoIP phones throughout the MMT building, the IRF, Common building, IOTA, and Bowl Dorm.

-The microwave link has been upgraded between the campus office and the summit. The MMT/summit operations communicate through this link to an antenna located on the roof of Steward Observatory on the UofA campus.  A second microwave link was upgraded from the MMT summit to the SI/FLWO administrative complex.

-Fiber connections were installed between the network switch within the MMT drive room and the MMT 2nd floor, as well as the MMT drive room and the MMT 3rd floor. These additional fiber connections will provide redundant paths as well as improve reliability by potentially reducing the number of "hops" required for network traffic within the MMTO building.  The network topology at the MMT was re-configured to use the MMT drive room switch as the master switch to reduce the number of hops required for inter-switch communication.

-Included in the network upgrade was deployment of over twenty new voice-over-IP (VoIP) phones at the MMT/Summit. New phone numbers (with a 879-xxxx prefix) have been implemented for both MMT and SI/FLWO operations. MMTO staff now have individual phone numbers so that they can be reached directly and have their own voice mail. The new phones also have a data port and can be used for a computer or other network device connection.  There are also currently two Cisco wireless VOIP phones that can be used throughout much of the MMT.  This wireless VOIP phone coverage will be expanded in FY2013.  Additional wireless VOIP phones may be purchased in FY2013.

-The MMT/SI network topology was completely reorganized with UofA, SI, and MMT network traffic now completely segregated.  A new subnet was allocated for MMT/downtown operations.  All computers, printers and other network devices at the MMT/downtown offices were configured for this new subnet.  The existing subnet at the MMT/summit was unchanged to minimize the impact of operations.  New firewalls were implemented by UITS between MMT, SI, UofA, and the outside world.