3. The Solution
The solution was to create a standard hardware provision for the far side of the optical connection, to provide multiple network services right to the unit's "front door" (FroDo). This gives the advantages:
- The unit's IT Officer has a much simpler installation to manage, with specific ports being bound to a specific service provision. The Frodo unit helps lower the requirement that the units IT officer has specific specialist knowledge in order to implement complex services.
- Sites with multiple annexes that would normally connect onto the backbone directly with a firewall for each can have their network presented as one unit with a single firewall.
- Troubleshooting is much easier, OUCS can remotely query the provided equipment to check for hardware errors and similar. The local IT Officers can describe changes in expected behaviors against the documented/expected service provision.
- Differentiated services can be offered (OWL VPN/Visitor, Eduroam) without excessively complex per-site management. Changes or improvements can be implemented University-wide in a vastly smaller time period due to the common hardware at the far sites connection.
- The connection health can easily be monitored. For this purpose an automated connectivity monitoring system has been set up and is currently in a testing phase. This monitors the health of each service port at the far site and the health of hardware such as the power supply, temperature and fans.
- Services are provided over copper RJ45 connections rather than terminated fibre optics. This reduces singe points of failure which were present with media converters and sensitive fibre equipment.