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Telecommunications (TCOM)

TCOM Strategic Implementation Plan

A comprehensive plan for telecommunications at Indiana University

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Executive Summary

This document provides a comprehensive planning and budgeting process for implementing the recommendations and actions of the Indiana University Information Technology Strategic Plan (ITSP) that are primarily the responsibility of the Telecommunications Division of University Information Technology Services (UITS). Major initiatives are outlined in this plan for evolving and building upon a sound telecommunications infrastructure that has been in place at the University for more than a decade. Indiana University has a reputation as one of the nation's most-wired institutions of higher education. The initiatives will guarantee the continuation of that tradition and our reputation through the beginning of this next millennium.

Major initiatives include:

  • Reliable access for students, faculty, and staff at appropriate bandwidths to the network from the office, at home, and other locations remote from the campus.
  • Providing network infrastructure in support of collaborative technology deployed in support of research and academic computing.
  • Convergence of data, telephone, and video services into one basic, integrated digital transmission infrastructure.
  • Funding for the life-cycle replacement and ongoing development of telecommunications services and infrastructures.
  • Plans, strategies, and implementations of improvements to IU's inter-campus networks, and links to the commodity Internet and advanced networks such as Internet2. As well, addressing the increasing use of multimedia applications across an enhanced video network infrastructure.
  • Plans, strategies, and implementations of University-wide wireless network infrastructures and services.
  • Production deployment of streaming media services such as videoconferencing and video and audio stores.

The nine action items in the IT Strategic Plan that are the responsibility of the Telecommunications Division and two others with networking elements that fall to Telecommunications to fulfill will require significant new funding, although most ongoing funding will be provided out of previously allocated base budget sources. New funding identified in the financial plan for the ITSP totals nearly $15,000,000. This estimate is fairly aggressive, but at this time appears reasonable to cover the costs associated with the planned implementations. Given the dynamic nature, however, of the technology in telecommunications, we will need to be vigilant in ensuring that as time passes and our implementation progresses, we have the flexibility to adapt and improvise along with the changes in the field.

It appears that costs in telecommunications are moving toward commodity
models dramatic price reductions similar to those seen in the desktop computer market in the past 18 months appear on the horizon. It is also clear, however, that as new applications emerge in the information technology environment, needs for telecommunications resources (specifically bandwidth) experience periods of flux reflected in dramatic increases in demand. One need only look at the impact that distributed multimedia applications in the past year (FY1999-2000) have had on demand for commodity Internet bandwidth to understand that we should not expect to realize savings from reductions in telecommunications costs. Rather, any savings will quickly need to be allocated to increased resources to meet new demand, and there may be periods where spot investments of one-time funds will be required to meet demand, or to adapt to new equipment technology required to provide resource.

In February 2000, the Telecommunications Division reorganized in an effort to prepare for implementation of this plan, and to continue and improve the delivery of existing services. The new structure still provides for separate structures Voice and Data/Video. In time, as we assess the impact of an increasing demand for Video services and understand the impact of convergence upon how we structure most key resource (people) in the delivery of all telecommunications services, we should hold open the possibility of restructuring our Division to best meet the needs of the environment and the state of technology we employ in meeting those needs. And not mentioned directly in this Plan is the most important operational component maintaining the human resources the people who ensure that the telecommunications technology works for the students, faculty, and staff of the University.

Finally, the Telecommunications Division is also uniquely able to leverage our expertise and reputation in national and international networking communities. The focus of the ITSP is certainly well placed in addressing the needs of Indiana University. The network of institutions, enterprises, and individuals that make up the Internet(s) are truly an extension of the IU community both in terms of potential resources to be used by the IU community, and potential users of resources made available by the IU community. As such, we must maintain and even increase our participation and leadership in many national and international advanced networking initiatives. We have the unique challenge of needing to juggle internal and external focus. Our priority must certainly be the services most valued by the IU community; but that same community benefits tremendously from our involvement in the broader networking environment.

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In May 1998, Indiana University published a bold and far-reaching plan for the comprehensive development and use of information technology. This plan, titled "Architecture for the 21st Century: An Information Technology Strategic Plan," recognized the key role telecommunications play in IU's missions of teaching, learning, research, service, and life-long learning. Telecommunications technologies networks and services are the underpinning infrastructure upon which all activities that are critical to students, faculty, and staff rely. The following recommendations from the IT Strategic Plan address telecommunications technologies and services:

Recommendation 2: The University should provide students, faculty and staff with reliable access to computing and network services, on the campuses and off. (In the language of today's technology, "No busy signals!").

Recommendation 5: In support of research, UITS should provide broad support for basic collaboration technologies and begin implementing more advanced technologies. UITS should provide advanced data storage and management services to researchers. The University should continue its commitment to high performance computing and computation, so as to contribute to and benefit from initiatives to develop a national computational grid.

Recommendation 7: The University should accelerate planning for a converged telecommunications infrastructure. The University and campuses must ensure that there is appropriate funding for telecommunications services and infrastructure in the base. Specific attention must be given to improving the state of the inter-campus networks, planning for and deployment of adequate commodity Internet connectivity, a university-wide base level of campus telecommunications connectivity, advanced networking infrastructure and applications, wireless networks and support for multimedia and streaming media.

The Telecommunications Division of UITS, with staff on the IUB and IUPUI campuses, is charged with developing and maintaining these networks and services that provide service for IU's core and regional campuses. In December 1999, the Vice President for Information Technology completed the reorganization and executive leadership staffing of UITS with the appointment of the first Associate Vice President for Telecommunications. In February 2000, the Telecommunications Division established a revised organizational structure for its two operational units Voice and Data/Video. By July 2000, all leadership and key staff positions in the Division will be filled, setting the stage for implementation of the relevant action items for Telecommunications from the IT Strategic Plan.

In April 2000, the Telecommunications Division prepared an Implementation Plan detailing the strategies, tasks, and resources needed to implement the actions that the IT Strategic Plan proposes to ensure the effective provision and evolution of telecommunications infrastructure and services to take Indiana University into the 21st Century. This booklet provides highlights of those actions.

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Reliable Access

ACTION 5: The University should provide students, faculty and staff with reliable access to computing, data storage, information and network services, on the campuses and off.

Access to information technology resources from off-campus has perhaps been the most long-standing area of dissatisfaction in the suite of services offered by UITS to the University community. For many years, demand far outpaced supply and user dissatisfaction was measured, literally, in busy signals.

The nature of academic work learning, teaching, research, and service to the institution requires students, faculty, and staff to have reliable access to the network from their off-campus residences. This is especially true at urban and regional campuses. But on every campus, access to the network from points beyond the reach of our excellent campus networks has become a minimum expectation of students, faculty, and staff. And it is critical to IU's ability to compete.

As access to the Internet evolves from a primary focus on the University's mission to one of a household commodity, we must evaluate the role of the University in providing full and unfettered access as a fully subsidized and supported service. For the moment, we must do and have done as the IT Strategic Plan suggests: Improve the rate of successful connections to the point of "no busy signals." But we must understand that the financial burden of providing this level of access at higher bandwidths using new technologies will not be practical, especially when larger percentages of the use of such access drifts from the direct mission of the University. As time passes and technology offerings in the market advance, the role of the University should shift to one of brokering access services between the members of the University community and the vendors to provide the best possible services at the best possible pricing. This is very much like IU's successful efforts to leverage its buying power for desktop computers in such a way as to make similar pricing available for the University community's purchases for home use.

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Implementation Strategy

Meeting Today's Demand for Low-speed Access

On the core campuses (IUPUI and IUB), UITS will maintain the current access service at a point that meets customer demand through the remaining life cycle of this level of technology. The goal of absolutely "no busy signals" may not always be achieved, but the size of our modem pools should be such that during peak times no member of the University community has to wait through more than seven attempts (roughly 60 seconds using today's auto-dial access routines) to achieve access, even at peak periods of load. We anticipate that the current service will level off as consumers seek to take advantage of higher-speed, vendor-provided access methods, and that eventually the service will start to shrink in terms of the size of the modem pools. This process will likely take three to five years.

On the regional campuses (IUN, IUSB, IUK, IUE, and IUSE), where campus-hosted access services are small or do not exist, it should not be the strategy to expand or establish those services. Rather, their campus communities should be encouraged to seek access from local Internet Service Providers, and the campus IT organizations should seek to leverage the buying power of their campus community to secure their local market's best rates and services.

Working with vendors that provide the primary rate interfaces (PRIs) required for the University-hosted services, UITS will explore more flexible arrangements that allow for contraction of such interfaces during periods of low use (i.e., summer). In this way, UITS will seek to provide for additional peak-load access with a minimum of additional funding for such interfaces.

UITS will explore options for outsourcing the existing IUB and IUPUI services to a market vendor. Based upon a recent (December 1999) Request for Information released into the vendor market, no outside vendor can provide the service at a cost less than what UITS provides, and thus immediate outsourcing along a traditional model is not practical. Many vendors, however, are beginning to see access less as a service-for-charge and more as a way to provide customers to their various advertisers. It is therefore possible that through continued exploration of the market, the University may be able to outsource remote access to a vendor at a cost that equals today's commitment, or may do so in a way that results in a savings. Or in the best possible case, may even result as an income stream to be used by the University to augment other IT initiatives.

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Meeting Future Demand for Higher-speed Access

As technology advances from today's connections of thousands of bits-per-second to speeds in the hundreds-of-thousands to millions of bits-per-second, IU will rely on the developing commercial infrastructure that has blossomed as the Internet has developed into a household commodity. As commercial offerings become broader with the advent of cable modems, DSL, and other forms of high speed connections to homes, and as such connections broaden from a University focus to that of a household commodity, IU will seek to leverage the power of its 100,000-member community to secure that market's best rates and services.

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Implementation Tasks

Implement policy to ensure that users of the remote access service are not using unreasonable amounts of the resource. In the summer of 1999, the Facilitative Use Policy was adopted and announced, which gave the operational units of UITS the power to query users who seem to be making excessive use of the dial-in resource. With regard to enforcement, we first seek to contact users whose use of the resource seems disproportionately high. Two facets are investigated: 1) Users who have multiple simultaneous connections; and 2) Users whose connect time exceeds what amounts to half of one modem in the pool over the period of a set period of time. 

Working with users, we have sought to determine if their abundance of use is related to the mission of the University. If so, we consult with them on alternatives they should pursue to reduce their reliance on central common resources. If not, we work with the Information Technology Policy Office to have the users cease activities that are not related to the mission of the University.

Upgrade the existing remote access services at IUPUI and IUB to the point where they are sized appropriate to meet demand. In the summer of 1999, the modem pools at both core campuses were upgraded to the point where the goal of the IT Strategic Plan (no busy signals!) was achieved in time for the start of the Fall 1999 semester. The pools were nearly doubled on both campuses to achieve this goal.

Continue to monitor existing remote access services at IUPUI and IUB to maintain the current level of service. During peak times (9pm to Midnight), a user should wait no more than 60 seconds to achieve a connection. When needed, we will add more capacity in reasonable amounts at times that match the University use cycle (i.e., start of semesters). We estimate we will need to add 96 lines to each campus pool in August 2000, again in January 2001, and once more in August 2001. We expect service demand to level off during FY2001-2002. From there, we expect to begin to start to contract the modem pools at a rate of 192 lines per campus in FY2002-2003 and another 192 lines in FY2003-2004.

Work with the vendors that provide the primary rate interfaces (PRIs) to try to achieve a more flexible model. This would involve establishing "floor" and "ceiling" numbers for the number of PRIs used, and "flexing back" to the lower floor level during extended periods of lower general use (i.e., summers). It is hoped that this solution might allow for raising of the "ceiling" level during peak use periods in such a way as to minimize additional costs for the higher ceiling.

Follow up on the 1999 Remote Access RFI. During the 1999 Remote Access RFI process, a vendor suggested the possibility that the University might outsource its current remote access service in a manner that not only saves money, but might potentially be done at zero-cost to the University and its users, or even provide an opportunity for a source of income. We plan to release an RFI during summer 2000 specifically requesting proposals from vendors along the lines of them taking on IU's service at no cost, or for a price paid to the University for consideration of that vendor's advertisers.

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Collaborative Technologies

ACTION 27: UITS should launch an aggressive program to systematically evaluate and deploy across the University state-of-the-art tools and infrastructure that can support collaboration within the University, nationally and globally.

ACTION 28: UITS should explore and deploy advanced and experimental collaborative technologies within the University's production information technology environment, first as prototypes and then if successful, more broadly.

Responsibility for implementing these Action Items fall into the portfolios of two UITS Divisions Research and Academic Computing (RAC) and Telecommunications. The specific components are identified for implementation by the RAC Division as follows:

  •  Actions 27&28a ­ Research software collaboration facilities. RAC will deploy two research software servers to promote collaboration. One will permit Web-based data publication and sharing. The second will create a central server for the sharing of NT-based research software applications.
  •  Actions 27&28b ­ Collaboratory development/Advanced VR. RAC will experiment with VR technologies for advanced immersive collaboratory environments.
  •  Actions 27&28c ­ Campus File System. RAC will establish a common file system providing the infrastructure for collaborative research and instruction.

Strategies, tasks, and resources for implementing these items are included in the RAC Division IT Strategic Implementation Plan (1999). The following specific components are identified for implementation by the Telecommunications Division:

  •  Actions 27&28d ­ Desktop videoconferencing and application sharing.
  •  Actions 27&28e ­ Digital video streaming for collaboration.

Strategies, tasks, and resources for implementing these items are detailed below.

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Implementation Strategy

All researchers work in intellectual communities and communities of practice. A fundamental feature of this work is collaboration across disciplines within a single institution and on a global scale within these widely distributed communities. Increasingly one of the most important uses of information technology in research will be to support distributed collaboration. Collaborative technologies have garnered great interest, but are not yet in widespread use. Existing commodity tools are in some cases of dubious quality.

Attention to the possibilities of this technology is often focused on the most elaborate technology, now useful only in demonstration or fit for use only by the most sophisticated users. Considered broadly, however, collaborative technology includes a range of technologies from these futuristic applications to a variety of applications that can be put to immediate use enhancing the everyday productivity of even relatively naive IT users.

Telecommunications will assess new, emerging network infrastructure technologies in the areas of delivering desktop video applications, and building on work in the implementation of Action Item 53 (streaming media services) will provide a robust telecommunications environment in support of the collaborative tools and systems developed and deployed by the RAC Division.

Implementation Tasks

Actions 27&28d - Desktop videoconferencing and application sharing. Assess and deploy new desktop video technologies and network applications that support these new technologies. This will include the acquisition and placement of equipment and software that will facilitate desktop video services. Most equipment will be in support of the infrastructure, rather than on specific desktops; desktop integration will, after a period of assessment, become the responsibility of each individual user (campus, department, or School). Standards will be developed and communicated broadly.

Actions 27&28e - Digital video streaming for collaboration. Expand upon the work of the implementation of Action Item 53 with a specific focus on video streaming used for collaboration, and especially in support of collaborative use of virtual reality and various forms of video-based data sharing and storage.

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ACTION 46: UITS should accelerate planning for a converged telecommunications infrastructure that aims to maximize the benefits to IU of this emerging technology direction. It should be accompanied by an aggressive program of testing and trialing of new "converged" technologies.

Indiana University has seen dramatic changes in its voice, video, and data infrastructures during this past decade. Even though the three infrastructures have been developed and enhanced separately, for the last few years the various vendors have been developing their products with the ultimate goal of carrying all three on the same infrastructure. While progress has been much slower than originally anticipated, the time is now right for the University to begin considering the convergence of these infrastructures.

The term convergence is applicable at two levels. At one level, convergence is understood to be a melding of what once were discreet systems supporting voice, video and data applications. The desktop PC, once only a data appliance, is becoming a multimedia data, voice and video appliance. At a second level, convergence occurs at the network infrastructure where a single, converged network provides the services that used to require three distinct networks. The focus of this plan will be predominantly on the latter.

Indiana University's telecommunications networks have evolved over a long period of time, under separate management structures, and without the advantage of an overall strategic plan. This applies not only to the separate disciplines such as voice, video, and data, but also to the individual campuses. This is not at all unusual in today's networking world. The resulting infrastructure is then shared and supported by multiple vendors, each with their own set of proprietary interfaces. It is these proprietary interfaces that necessitate a significant amount of in-house testing of new converged products, before Indiana University can offer these products into the production networks.

This plan is ultimately recommending the migration of the University voice and video services onto the IP broadband network. This migration will be accomplished through various trials, tests, and implementations of new technologies, in partnership with various vendors and service providers.

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Implementation Strategy

Ultimately, and in an ideal world, the voice, video, and data signals should ride the same wire to the desktop, be switched through the same switches, be monitored by the same network monitoring tools, and be supported by one organization. Realistically, this ideal world is not possible today for a variety of reasons.

Cost, while not the primary consideration, should be a factor in any consideration of altering the network infrastructure. The University has a considerable investment in the current infrastructures for all three networks, but many of the costs have already been depreciated out. When evaluating the option to replace the current infrastructure, the cost of maintaining the present configuration must be compared to the cost of replacing it. As new alternatives have developed for carrying voice over the data network, the telephony vendors have continued to push down the costs of maintaining the switched voice networks. Reliability is a relative term when comparing networks. The data networks today are much more reliable than they were just a few years ago, but they have not reached the level of reliability that is considered acceptable for carrying voice traffic. The difference between 99.95% and 99.99% uptime looks miniscule, but is considerable in terms of outages for the customers. This issue must be addressed before all services can ride the same wire to the desktop.

Resiliency, while very similar to reliability, is defined as "the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change." Data networks are designed to be resilient by re-sending dropped packets. Unfortunately, this level of resiliency creates a severe problem for voice and video because these packets cannot be resent. Several alternate protocols have been developed to guarantee a Quality of Service (QoS) for the voice and video traffic; but to date, an accepted interoperable standard has not been agreed upon. In addition, the data networks have not been developed with options for backup power or processor redundancy, which are common in the voice networks.

Scalability is essential for any network designed to carry all University traffic. This includes the amount of bandwidth available on the backbone as well as the number of ports available in any end devices.

Interoperability between different vendor's equipment will be key to both the short- and long-term success of convergence. Any convergence solutions should be based on industry accepted IP standards. Failure to do so will increase the potential for added costs to implement and maintain these solutions.

Management of a converged network will be tricky during the early implementation stages. The voice networks do not currently support standard network monitoring protocols. In addition, the current structure of the data networks does not allow for end-to-end visibility. The Network Operations Center must have the ability to monitor the networks from end to end in order to support new technologies such as multicast.

With these issues taken into consideration, the goal of this Action Item still rings true: We must begin planning for a converged infrastructure and take prudent action to prepare for a converged infrastructure. This action item provides an opportunity for UITS to focus on maximizing the benefits to Indiana University of a converged network infrastructure. The following areas of focused strategy will allow IU to take advantage of that opportunity.

Voice Network Convergence

With the exception of the Northwest campus, the entire IU voice network has been developed using Nortel switches. The two large campus switches have similar Meridian 100 architectures and the smaller campus switches have various versions of the Meridian 1 architecture. This should be an advantage as the University attempts to test and develop interfaces from the switched voice network to the packet IP network.

The voice switches have high reliability because of complete processor redundancy, battery backup, and in many cases generator power backup. This level of reliability is easier to maintain because of the centralized location of the switches.

The proprietary protocols of the voice network enhance the reliability, but at the same time they limit the functionality of the interfaces to external systems such as voice mail, network based servers, or the data network. The voice vendors have begun to develop IP based interfaces, but they are very cautious in their approach, because they want to maintain their established base, even as they develop their new products. Currently, all network monitoring of the voice switches is accomplished through proprietary Nortel protocols, which creates a barrier to system-wide monitoring via standards-based protocols such as SNMP.

Video Network Convergence

ITSP Action 46 speaks of convergence of the network infrastructure level. Video network convergence tasks are covered in the Plan under Action Items 48, 49, 50, 52. Streaming media services tasks are covered in the Plan under Action Item 53.

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Data Network Convergence

ITSP Action 46 speaks of convergence of the network infrastructure level. Data network convergence tasks are covered in the Plan under Action Items 48, 49, 50, and 52. The following helps articulate the strategy for the data network.

The Indiana University inter-campus data network system including the wide area network inter-connecting IU's campuses and the individual campus networks provides a simple, best-effort network service with sparse and limited support for IP multicast. The IU network system is in fact a loosely inter-connected collection of networks; each network is designed and maintained autonomously by the local campus. End-to-end network management and support is mostly non-existent. The current network generally meets user's expectations reasonably well for today's applications.

New applications including those applications that integrate traditional telephony services will require advanced network features such as IP multicast and quality of service (QoS) network features. Many emerging applications will not perform acceptably over the current network and their performance will be highly sensitive to packet loss, latency, and jitter. Sub-optimal network performance that today might cause a slight hesitation in a terminal session or a few second delay in transferring a file can significantly reduce the quality and usability of a teleconferencing session or even a simple phone call placed through the network.

Supporting the use of next-generation Internet applications and the convergence to a single transport network (IP) not only requires engineering changes to the IU network system to support advanced network services, it also requires a common network management framework and an integrated support organization able to support applications end-to-end across the entire IU system.

Each campus network will need to support, as a minimum level of service, switched 10baseT to the desktop. Not only is this a capacity requirement, but the connection will also need to support high rates of IP multicast and a quality of service framework based on the IP DiffServ model. Campus backbones will need to support IP packets at gigabit rates and provide high-speed connections for servers and special applications.

Effective management of end-to-end services such as IP multicast and QoS requires that the IU network system adopt a common management framework and implementation, and that network path and element performance and management information be available via a common Web-based application. To ease the management burden, it will be advantageous to limit the deployment of network equipment supporting the IU network system to a list of tested and approved items.

Common Infrastructure

As we move into position to consider and implement a converged networking strategy, we must be mindful of the need to perform life-cycle replacement and modernization of the common infrastructure upon which this convergence will occur. Primarily, this involves the necessary upgrades to our existing wire infrastructure; in particular to the inside wire plant and wire closets. In the case of the former, we need to begin an effort to systematically replace the category 3 wiring (or equivalent) that runs in the walls of our buildings, connecting each user station to the network backbone. In the case of the latter, we need to begin to prepare our connection-point closets for the day when they will house a greater component of computer equipment required for a converged network, such as supplying adequate power and HVAC to support the needs of that equipment.

Also in this area would be efforts to assess technologies for desktop convergence (i.e., equipment that provides for voice/data/video services), and the implementation of a unified messaging service that combines e-mail, fax, and voice mail onto a single server platform.

Finally, as we converge the network, we will have increasingly more complex systems to examine, monitor, and maintain. Thus we need to ensure that our Telecommunications Laboratory is adequately equipped and that our Network Operations Center has the tools and human resources needed to manage the system.

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Develop and Extend Strategic Relationships

It is clear that convergence will be an industry-driven technology area and that the University must more energetically and directly leverage developments in technology made by key vendors. While we can and will do testing and trialing locally in our environments, we must establish closer ties with industry leaders and other institutions facing the same issues we are. This should include more active relationship building activities with vendors and peer institutions, achieved through a steadily increasing rate of participation in national and international forums on the topic of convergence.

Implementation Tasks

Voice Network Convergence

Implement Voice over IP gateways at each IU campus. Carrying voice over the IP backbone between campuses provides an opportunity for the University to realize savings in circuit costs as compared to today's model. This can be implemented in two ways. One way is to retain the standard T1 interface from the PBX and interface it into a router, which would then convert the T1 signal into an IP-based signal for transport to another campus. Another way is to install equipment in the PBX, which converts the proprietary signal directly into an IP-based signal. Each of these options should be tested and compared for reliability and functionality.

Implement an IP PBX system trial. Because of the rich features that exist in today's voice switches, the conversion of voice from the narrow-band network to the broadband network at the campus desktop level will be a significant challenge. Several vendors have introduced IP telephone switches running on various platforms with limited levels of success. The greatest challenge seems to be scalability to accommodate the number of lines currently in use at the larger campuses. With this in mind, the University will seek to partner with reliable vendors to create a test environment in which all feature interactions and scalability issues can be resolved. Each of these partnerships will be documented and approved as the opportunities arise.

Create a wide-area service (virtual inter-exchange carrier). IU will take a leadership role in Voice over IP (VoIP) by formally extending VoIP services to various participating educational and R&D institutions, including Abilene and STAR TAP participants. The University will leverage its national prominence in operating IP networks and its vendor relationships to create a higher education VoIP consortium, in which vendors will provide deeply discounted equipment and high levels of support for equipment purchased by consortium members. Participating vendors will benefit from the development of a critical mass of users, which will stimulate further sales and development of new broadband voice services. Operating under policies articulated by the consortium, the VNOC will maintain a database of participating VoIP peers, including telephone numbers, IP addresses, contacts, SNMP monitoring, etc. This type of coordination is essential to maintain routing in a production environment.

Standardize our telecommunications management system (TMS) University-wide. The Moves, Adds, and Changes functions will be extended via the Web to allow the departmental coordinators to input service changes directly. An interface will be developed between the work order systems and the campus PBXs to facilitate automatic processing of validated work orders. We will implement a software upgrade of one of our telecommunications management systems and expand its license to standardize billing, infrastructure inventory, and work order processing across all campuses for all data, video, and voice services.

Migrate PBX administration to IP network. The operation and maintenance of the campus PBXs is currently accomplished through a terminal interface into the Nortel switches. Management of these switches will be migrated onto the IP network to include SNMP access, automated work order processing, and TMS reconciliation.

Develop computer-telephony integration of Call Center services. An RFP will be developed to define the replacement of the current Call Center software. The new software should be totally IP server-based with integration into the PeopleSoft servers. One objective is to establish a University virtual call center capability, which enables seamless handoff between the campus Call Center (Operators), the Support Center, and any number of departmental call centers throughout the University. Constituents accessing campus Web pages should have the option to place a VoIP call to appropriate call centers, accompanied by context information to enable call center skill-based routing and database stimulation. Conceivably, this model can be extended to transparently hand off calls to external call centers (under a service agreement) or to use push technology to deliver multimedia-based extended services (i.e., information, consulting, or training services on demand; e.g., NETg) in response to customer needs. This project obviously has potential ties to other ITSP Action Items (e.g., 28, 17, 18, etc.)

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Video Network Convergence

Video network convergence tasks are covered in the Plan under Action Items 48, 49, 50, and 52. Streaming media services tasks are covered in the Plan under Action Item 53.

Data Network Convergence

Data network convergence tasks are covered in the Plan under Action Items 48, 49, 50, and 52. Wireless data networking tasks are covered in the Plan under Action Item 51.

Common Infrastructure

Desktop convergence. In cooperation with other units particularly TLIT the Telecommunications Division will begin an aggressive program of trialing and testing desktop technology that exploits converged (multimedia) communication, with the goal of developing a communication environment supporting PC dial tone, fax, unified messaging, a Web-based video "tuner," video conferencing, and an AV delivery system that includes scheduling and remote control of playback servers.

Upgrade Inside Plants (ISP). The Telecommunications Division will convert category 3 station wiring to category 5 within five years at no cost to users. We will develop detailed implementation plan that examines the issue of wholesale replacement vs. multiyear phasing. We will consider the issue of installing building wiring trays as part of the upgrade. We will install horizontal fiber on a user-demand, charge-back basis and continue to systematically install fiber and category 5 wire in the risers as needed.

Upgrade wire closets. The Telecommunications Division will add uninterruptible power supply (UPS), climate control, and security systems as needed to increase the reliability and security of the IP network, which, unlike today's telephone system, deploys active (electronic) components in wiring closets.

Upgrade the NOC. The Telecommunications Division will provide state-of-the-art, end-to-end proactive and reactive monitoring and management of the network in support of the delivery of multicast and unicast applications such as lectures and VoIP. We will develop Web-based, end-user tools that display network conditions and make those tools available to local support providers and end users.

Upgrade the Telecommunications Lab. The Telecommunications Division will support convergence development, testing, and trialing. This provides a general upgrade to support additional development and to acquire test equipment and other general infrastructure such as servers.

Evaluate unified messaging. The Telecommunications Division will evaluate combining e-mail, fax, and voice mail on a single server platform. User message retrieval will ultimately include voice to e-mail conversion and vice-versa (i.e., voice synthesis and voice recognition). This is part of a life-cycle replacement of today's proprietary and single purpose voice mail systems.

Develop and Extend Strategic Relationships

The Telecommunications Division must energetically and directly leverage and further develop relationships with key vendors and other University units to successfully execute this network convergence plan. This requires special allowance to support an unusual level of travel, meetings, and specialized training.

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Life-cycle Funding

ACTION 47: The University as a whole and the campuses individually should establish base funding for the life-cycle replacement and ongoing development of telecommunications services and infrastructure.

Historically, one of IU's strengths has been the excellent telecommunications infrastructure for both data and voice on the core campuses at Bloomington and Indianapolis. This was accomplished through modernization in the late 1980s, accompanied by the implementation of a funding model that emphasized life-cycle replacement costs be systematically set in reserve. In this manner, on the core campuses, reserves have been built over the life of the equipment and facilities (wireplant, etc.) that allow for them to be upgraded and modernized without the need for special one-time funding. This excellent system ensures that the telecommunications infrastructure can be maintained and modernized as technology changes, and not be subject to resource prioritization on an acute basis.

Unfortunately, this was not the system employed at IU's regional campuses. As a result, the situation has been less satisfactory on those campuses, with funding of telecommunications infrastructure upgrades provided in an ad hoc manner and, as a result, those campus networks have suffered.

Implementation Strategy

IU's regional campuses must develop base funding for life-cycle replacement and ongoing development of their telecommunications services and infrastructures in the same way base funding has been provided at the core campuses. This means that service charges for use of that infrastructure telephone and data network connection and service must not only cover visible operating expenses on an annual basis, but also provide a replacement fund built of annual contributions that go into reserve for use to replace that infrastructure at the end of its productive life cycle.

Implementation Tasks

The Office of the Vice President for Information Technology shall charge the OVPIT Finance Officer and the Regional Campus Chief Information Officers with developing and implementing appropriate funding models on each of IU's campuses that cover both ongoing annual expenses and build a reserve for life-cycle replacement of all components of the telecommunications infrastructure. This model will be based on a direct bill charge similar to what is in place at IUB and IUPUI.

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Network Architecture

ACTION 48: A five year plan for the University's intercampus networks and commodity Internet connectivity should be immediately developed, funded and implemented.

ACTION 49: A uniform base level of telecommunications connectivity and standards should be defined, communicated, and where necessary, implemented for all campuses.

ACTION 50: The University should consider implementing a network architecture that separately supports production and advanced network applications.

ACTION 52: The networking demands due to the increasing use of multimedia applications should be addressed as the University network continues to develop.

The intercampus telecommunications networks (the IUnet data network, the VIC video network, and the connections to the commodity Internet and Internet2) are a critical part of the glue that binds IU's geographically distinct campuses together into one University and our one University to the national and international networks. These networks are what allow the University's teaching, learning, and research resources to be shared across the whole University and with the community of scholars and enterprises that stretch across the nation and around the globe.

Indiana University is a vigorous and recognized leader in both the provision of infrastructure network services to its community of students, faculty, and staff, and in the development of a number of new generation national and international network initiatives. IU has made a commitment to the continued excellence in campus and university networking, and to continued participation and leadership in the national and international network community. For the past four years, IU Bloomington has been recognized as one of the nation's most-wired campuses, and IUPUI this past year joined the ranks of the nation's top-50 most-wired campuses (according to the Yahoo! Internet Life annual survey). IU is a founding member of Internet2, and after being selected in 1998 to host the Abilene network operations center (NOC), has achieved great prominence for providing outstanding service to the Internet2 community. As well, IU is the lead institution in the US for a high performance network connection to Asia and the Pacific Rim, and hosts the NOC for that consortium's TransPAC network.

Indiana University, working with Purdue University, the Indiana Higher Education Commission, and the Governor's Office, successfully lobbied the State Legislature to fund the Optical Fiber Infrastructure (OFI) and Indiana GigaPOP initiative. This initiative will provide for a multi-fiber, dedicated network corridor connecting IU Bloomington, IUPUI, and Purdue West Lafayette to the Internet2 core node in Indianapolis.

The national and international network initiatives are being supported through external grants and non-University funds, and the State is funding the OFI and the Indiana GigaPOP. To build the University's own network, however, and bring the benefits of high speed networking to all the campuses, funding will need to be allocated in four basic areas:

1. Increased network bandwidth between IUPUI and IUB

2. Increased network bandwidth for IUnet connections to the regional campuses

3. Modernization and ongoing operation of the Virtual Indiana Classroom (VIC) network to support distance learning and intercampus video conferencing

4. Capacity increases in IU's connections to the commodity Internet to keep pace with increased demand

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Implementation Strategy

IU will first establish higher-speed links between IUB and IUPUI to set the stage for increased capacity to provide for more data flowing between the two core campuses. Ultimately, the link between the core campuses will be provided as part of the OFI, but until that path is in place (estimated as July 2001), additional capacity will be purchased from vendors to at least triple the bandwidth available on this important link.

Next we will expand the connections to the regional campuses (IUN, IUSB, IUK, IUE, and IUSE) to further build the necessary capacity to make drastic improvements in performance of the data network, and to set the stage for convergence of Voice and Video networks onto this new backbone in 2001.

While we are testing and developing the necessary technology to facilitate convergence of the Video network onto the new IUnet, we will maintain the existing VIC network and modernize the equipment that handles both transport and presentation in the over two dozen facilities scattered across the campuses. This activity will be closely coordinated with implementation of Action Item 21 by the Teaching and Learning IT Division, and funding from both strategic initiatives (Classrooms and Network) will be leveraged to achieve the goals of all.

Finally, IU must continue to provide necessary connections to the commodity Internet. While new network initiatives such as Internet2 will most certainly expand in terms of their use by the IU community of researchers, teachers, and students, connections to the more established commercial Internet are foreseen to also be expanding as well. That Internet's pervasive use in our society continues to grow and expand, and as such IU must maintain vigilance in terms of ensuring that the performance of its connection is maintained at required rates.

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Implementation Tasks

Telecommunications Standards

A uniform set of telecommunications standards should be defined, communicated, and, where necessary, implemented for all campuses. In the Spring of 2000, a set of guiding principles was developed by UITS and the regional campus CIOs, toward the end of establishing a set of telecommunications standards for use throughout the University. This document should be further developed and, where necessary, changes should be made to various campus telecommunications infrastructures to ensure that all campuses have a level playing field in terms of the core telecommunications fabric made available.

Supporting the use of next generation Internet applications and the convergence to a single transport network (IP) not only requires engineering changes to the IU network system to support advanced network services, it also requires a common network management framework and an integrated support organization able to support applications end-to-end across the entire IU system.

Each campus network will need to support, as a minimum level of service, switched 10baseT to the desktop. Not only is this a capacity requirement, but the connection will also need to support high rates of IP multicast and a quality of service framework based on the IP DiffServ model. Campus backbones will need to support IP packets at gigabit rates and provide high-speed connections for servers and special applications.

Effective management of end-to-end services such as IP multicast and QoS requires that the IU network system adopt a common management framework and implementation, and that network path and element performance and management information be available via a common Web-based application. To ease the management burden, it will be advantageous to limit the deployment of network equipment supporting the IU network system to a list of tested and approved items.

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Increase Network Bandwidth

Expand the network between IU's core campuses in Bloomington and Indianapolis. Initially, capacity will be doubled from two DS3s (45-Million bits per second) to four DS3s in April of 2000. As developments in the selection of a vendor for the OFI project proceed through the Summer of 2000, assess creatively how to expand the core-campus connectivity further at little or no cost, while waiting for the implementation of the OFI between IUB and IUPUI.

Increase the network bandwidth for IUnet connections to the regional campuses. Expand the network connecting IU's regional campuses (at Gary, South Bend, Kokomo, Richmond, and New Albany) from their current size, which vary from three to four T-1s (1.54 Mbps), to full DS3. This will involve acquiring new circuit facility and hardware needed to route network traffic. This will be implemented on July 1, 2000, and be fully operational and reliable prior to the start of fall semester 2000. Provide for life-cycle funding of all hardware and software components put into place by the IUnet expansion.

Modernization and Ongoing Operation of the Virtual Indiana Classroom (VIC) Network

Migrate the VIC network onto the new IUnet infrastructure. This should take place in the Summer of 2001 as production technologies emerge and we are able to select the best alternative for transport, network control, and classroom presentation.

Conduct research testing. Acquire sufficient hardware in the Summer of 2000 and conduct research testing toward selecting the appropriate, most functional technology for deployment in a converged IU network system. Following identification of appropriate hardware technology, modernize the entire VIC system, including MCU, transport, scheduling, and classroom components (in conjunction with implementation of Action Item 21). All modernization to be completed and migration accomplished by July 1, 2001.

Provide for life cycle funding of all hardware and software components. Put this into place by the VIC network modernization process.

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Capacity Increases in IU's Connections to the Commodity Internet

IUB's connection to the commodity Internet was expanded during the 1999-2000 academic year. Expansion from 15 Mbps to 30 Mbps was accomplished within the base budget; however, expansion to 45 Mbps, as required by use, was not funded through the existing base. IUPUI's connection was placed on a burst-traffic model, which allowed for periodic increases in available bandwidth without increased cost.

Release an RFP for achieving market-best pricing for various expansion alternatives. We should do this for IUB's network in May 2000, and continue to ensure adequate capacity is available for fall 2000. Work closely with the current connection vendor to achieve improvements in IUPUI network capacity along the existing burst-satisfying model.

Continuously monitor the market. Through the coming three years (FY2001-2004), continuously monitor the changing market for Internet connectivity to maintain demand-meeting capacity with a constant level of funding. Evaluate overall initiative funding shortfalls and recommend increases in the funds to be dedicated toward the expansion of the commodity Internet. Depending upon use, potential sources include reallocation or increases in network access charges (per-jack billing devoted toward data networking), student technology fees, or reallocation of other UITS resources.

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Wireless Networking

ACTION 51: Implementation should begin for a university-wide wireless network, initially through a trial with a School.

As we move forward in time, mobile computing will increasingly become a part of the information technology environment at Indiana University. Today, the preponderance of computing is done in a fixed location the desktop, whether that be in offices, labs, classrooms, or residences. But as advances in laptops make it possible for today's mobile computists to truly become mobile computer users, the need will arise for these individuals to have a connection option that does not require "plugging in" to fixed locations.

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Implementation Strategy

Wireless Data Communication

As we implement wireless networking we should not abandon the traditional fixed network. Governed by the IEEE 802.11 standard, today's technology options offer aggregate access point speeds in the range of 11 Mbps; compared to fixed locations that offer 10 to 100 Mbps connections. IEEE 802.11a will offer speeds in the 24 to 54 Mbps range, and that technology is still emerging. But the future does not yet hold wireless connection speeds (and reliability) in the range needed for most high-volume applications. Thus, the wireless initiative is not meant to be a replacement technology for a well-wired campus. Rather, it is an augmentation to that wire plant, extending the network in zones of common use for general-purpose network access. An exception is deployment in places where fixed wiring is not an option, due to building configuration, age, or location; i.e., where installing traditional wiring is either not possible or not practical.

Success in the use of wireless technology is less about the technology itself and more about the support structures put into place by the central IT organization, and departments that provide support for wireless access locally. Thus, while the task of researching wireless technology and engaging in trial deployments is a Telecommunications Division task, the ultimate production deployments will require close support by the Teaching and Learning IT Division.

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Successful implementations of wireless technology today share some common elements. Generally, they limit wireless uses as follows:

  •  Wireless access is provided in common areas where students, faculty, and staff gather. Wireless Access Points (WAPs) are installed to provide network access in these places only.

  •  User numbers are limited and there is the expectation of higher user knowledge of wireless use. Due to the limited bandwidth, it is not the case that a given WAP location can support an unlimited number of users. The more users, the smaller the share of the bandwidth available.

  •  Generally, users must register their wireless cards with the network authority, undergo certification to ensure that their equipment will function effectively in the environment, and be skilled in how to make use of wireless access technology.
  •  Applications are limited to the most pervasive Web browsing and e-mail. Again, due to the limit of bandwidth and concerns about security in wireless environments, a limited set of applications are usually authorized for wireless access. The most popular uses of wireless in the common areas will undoubtedly be e-mail and Web browsing.
  •  Standardization is a key to success. To ensure effective use and allow the most effective support of wireless users, only certain supported configurations will be allowed such as the kind of laptop, operating system, and laptop access cards.

Ultimately, wireless in common areas will be the responsibility of UITS and the plan reflects a specific number of such deployments; however, wireless deployments in departmental locations or limited-use settings will be the responsibility of the departments and Schools. The role of UITS shall be to develop standards for deployment and use, develop support models that integrate with the general Leveraged Support Model structures of support, and continually assess the technology including working with Purchasing to develop advantageous pricing programs with
select vendors.

Wireless Telephony

While testing and product development for desktop IP telephony is well underway, the future of telephony, including IP telephony, is wireless. This R/D project is designed to position Indiana University at the cutting edge of this developing area. People want a portable device that can function as their single point of contact with the voice world (not unlike the laptop computer as a single connection to the computing world). This device needs to have sufficient intelligence to screen calls, link to voice mail, and provide a user-friendly link (e.g., browser, video, etc.) to the Internet. Presumably these devices must use IPv6 addressing and some type of new technology to greatly increase the density of phones within a cell area (cells must be able to handle more phones).

The University campus provides an excellent test bed for such an experiment because we have a widely deployed IP network which touches every building on the campus, a dense population, which is fairly technically literate, and an excellent technical staff to assist with design and development issues.

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Implementation Tasks

Technology Assessment and Test Deployment within UITS

An immediate assessment of the technology market of products and vendors will be undertaken and best-in-class products that support standards (IEEE 802.11) will be acquired and installed within the UITS facilities for extensive testing and trialing. Although wireless has been employed in UITS facilities for a number of years, the existing equipment is both outdated and non-standard. Given the intense use and relatively robust user community found within UITS, it holds the best promise as a testing site. Equipment will be evaluated in June-July 2000 and installed and operating beginning in August 2000. In addition to WAP devices, a number of cards will be acquired and distributed to UITS staff participating in the testing.

A task force formed in December 1999 will be charged with both technical testing and development of support models for the use of wireless technology. Members from both the Telecommunications Division and the Teaching and Learning IT Division have been working on the project marginally for the past months; their efforts will need to intensify. A project manager will be appointed and charged with developing a test plan and the development of support structures for wireless deployment.

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Initial Trial Deployments on All Campuses

A total of seven trial deployment sites will be selected by the task force three at each of the core campuses (IUPUI and IUB) and one at a regional campus. Technology proven in the UITS tests will be deployed in selected locations. Trials should commence in October 2000 and complete work in December 2000.

Locations should include common zones (library lobbies, student gathering areas, or specific departmental areas), and partners responsible for these zones will be recruited and integrated with the implementation task force.

Second Round of Trial Deployments on All Campuses

Following successful results from the initial trials, the program will be expanded to include another fourteen sites of deployment. Second round trials should commence in December 2000 and complete work by March 2001.

Development of Standards and Support Models

Through the trial periods, an intensive effort to develop wider deployment support materials will be undertaken. This will take the form of specifications for equipment (the traditional assessment and advising function). A staff person should be added to the Departmental Support Lab (Computing Advising) Team in TLIT-IUB for this purpose during the FY00-01 and FY01-02 period. An initial standard should be published no later than June 2001, and should be revised quarterly during the subsequent fiscal year (2001-2002). Support of departmental acquisition and deployment should follow the current LSP support model.

During the testing/trial period, it will not be possible to delay or stop individual departments, Schools, or campuses from seeking to do their own testing and initial deployments of wireless technology. The University, however, will not be well served if its wireless infrastructure ends up being a patchwork quilt of different technologies and protocols, creating islands of different architectures and support structures. Therefore, a policy must be developed which states that the University will require a standardized wireless technology environment based upon the work of UITS during FY2000-2001. Departments or Schools which decide to engage in their own testing or preliminary deployments are urged to consider their investments short-term to build in the costs of the equipment over a very short period of time (one year, or two at the most) and to be prepared to acquire University standard wireless technology at the end of their own parochial tests and trials. The task force will be responsible for developing such a policy, working with the IT Policy Office to promote its adoption.

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Production Deployments (Common Areas)

In addition to the sites developed during the trials, a total of 47 additional sites should be identified for deployment (16 each at the IUB and IUPUI campuses, and 2 each at the five regional campuses) in each of the first two fiscal years (FY2000-2001 and FY2001-2002). This will mean that a total of 40 sites at IUB, 40 sites at IUPUI, and 4 sites at each regional campus for a total of 20 sites will exist in the production centralized deployment. These sites should be identified by April 2001 and deployments completed no later than August 2001, in time for the start of the academic year 2001-2002.

Given the rapid change in the technology, a short life-cycle funding model for the acquired equipment is recommended. Two years shall be that life cycle, and the funding model shall accommodate that assumption.

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Wireless Telephony

We propose to develop an R/D partnership with a wireless vendor (e.g., Nokia) to explore mechanisms (protocols/hardware/software) to connect mobile IPv6 phones to the IU IP network and seek ways to transparently integrate wireless devices with various user domains of service (desktop, building, campus, commercial service providers, home, etc.).

Streaming Media

ACTION 53: The University should begin the production deployment of streaming media services such as videoconferencing and video and audio stores. It should ensure that support is provided for quality of service on the University networks to ensure that emerging instructional and research applications relying on interactive or streaming media (including digital libraries and distributed education) can have consistent and acceptable performance.

Existing University video services include broadcast television, cable TV (CATV) systems, Virtual Indiana Classroom (VIC) videoconferencing services, the Interactive Multimedia Distribution System (IMDS; i.e., the IUPUI VCR robot) analog-based video streaming service, and broadcast-quality transport of video from Bloomington to Indianapolis for linkage to national distribution systems.

Emerging video services include video streaming, desktop-based videoconferencing, and ubiquitous room-based conferencing systems. Video streaming services (one-way, non-interactive) support a multitude of applications including augmentation of traditional Web content, digital library services, distance learning lectures and resources, broadcast services, marketing and communications, and live events delivered through a consistent user interface (browsers). Desktop and room-based conferencing (n-way, interactive) will dramatically proliferate as quality technology becomes affordable and practical.

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Implementation Strategy

The IU network must increasingly support applications characterized by rich content and multiple media image, text, hypertext, audio, video, and virtual reality. These applications will involve interactions ranging from active information seeking, to intelligent agents as information seeking intermediaries, to "push" and broadcast models of information distribution. Special support will be required for streaming media such as video and audio to ensure both quality of service and to provide the large amounts of scaleable hierarchical storage that will be required.

This Action Item will fund hardware, software, and staff support needed to implement streaming media services, with an emphasis on applications in teaching and learning and videoconferencing.

Implementation Tasks

The Telecommunications Division will quickly evaluate available media-streaming products in the market, and in conjunction with elements of the IT Strategic Plan having to do with the VIC network (Action Items 48, 49, 50, and 52), begin deployment of media-streaming services.

The Telecommunications Division of UITS will assume responsibility for the IMDS system in place at IUPUI and oversee the migration of that service to new-generation media streaming and storage technologies.

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Last updated: 14 January, 2004
Copyright 2003, The Trustees of Indiana University