The main function and core mission of OIT can be summed up by the phrase “Trains, Tracks, and Fans.”
- Trains refer to keeping the “IT trains” running on time, e.g., ensuring system, data, and network availability; and, that systems and infrastructure are updated and current.
- Tracks refer to laying new tracks, e.g., project work. (By the way — a new projects dashboard is available on our Project Management Office website.)
- Fans refer to customer service. We want to create raving fans — not rabid fans.
We have had some late Trains this semester as we have experienced a handful of significant network outages. Such events are unusual when compared to our network uptime prior to this semester. We are aware of the impact such outages have on our university population, and are working diligently with our vendor partners to build as much redundancy as fiscally and technically possible to resolve the issues. Network outages do not create raving fans.
Boise State’s Wi-Fi environment is served by a number of physical devices, such as Wi-FI access points (the little white boxes that you see mounted on ceilings); network cables within (and between) buildings; and switches, routers, and fiber optic cables that connect campus with internet service providers. Some of the points in the chain of hardware, software, and cabling are more redundant than others.
Late in the evening on August 24, for example, the fiber optic cable connecting Boise State with one of our internet service providers was cut during road construction. The cut simultaneously exposed a problem with our secondary internet provider (since corrected). The problem delayed the start of classes on August 25 and returned to cause another, shorter outage during the afternoon of August 30.
Also, in the late evening hours of August 30, an underground electrical cable on Belmont Street failed, causing a loss of power (and Wi-FI) for most of campus.
Since late July, the university has worked with a local technology firm and our vendor partners to address instability problems with our eduroam authentication service that provides access to Wi-FI. The latest outage on September 26 focused our technical efforts on stabilizing the existing this authentication service, and our Network Engineers worked through the night to rebuild servers to restore Wi-Fi access.
We are implementing a patch this week that we believe should stabilize Wi-Fi issues, and research is underway to determine if the University would be better served with an alternative system for eduroam authentication services or remain on our current platform.
We understand that the campus network is critical to almost everything we do. We will continue to focus on ensuring the IT Trains run time is top priority. We are always looking at how we can do better, and we appreciate your patience as we strive to continue creating raving fans.
Associate Vice President, Chief Information Officer