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Oakland Upgrades Network Connection to 10 Gbps

ROCHESTER, Mich. – Just in time for the busy back-to-school season, Merit Network’s engineering staff upgraded Oakland University’s primary connection to Merit’s backbone network, boosting the connection from 1 gigabit-per-second (Gbps) to 10 Gbps.

“We had seen some evidence of congestion last spring, particularly before the students left for the summer,” said Theresa Rowe, chief information officer for Oakland University. “It wasn’t enough to disrupt experience, but we knew if we failed to act we would have significant latency and a poor client experience to start the fall semester.”
'Merit's network engineers were instrumental in this change' - Theresa Rowe
“Last year, they had two 1 Gbps connections, and by the end of the spring semester, they were saturating it,” said Michael Milliken, director of technology operations for Merit. “They did a significant firewall upgrade in August, and in the course of doing that, they upgraded to a 10 Gbps connection before school started.”

The Internet now plays a major role in the day-to-day activities of the University, from academic research and online courses to university relations and administrative applications. Faculty, staff and students rely on the campus’s Internet connections regularly, and the network upgrade greatly improves performance and provides room for network traffic to grow.

“Our online programs, services, and course materials saw immediate benefit from the upgrade,” Rowe stated. “All of our academic programs benefited. So much of our educational material is now posted and shared online; it was very important to have this material easily accessible during the first days of class.”

“The upgrades have provided a high-quality network experience,” Rowe added. “We exceeded our prior limit (1 Gbps) during the first couple days of the semester, proving that we needed to act.”

Merit offers its Members assistance with network engineering, network consulting and traffic optimization on a consulting basis. As part of a professional services agreement with the University, Merit’s network engineers performed the necessary network upgrades and assisted with a firewall project.

“Merit’s network engineers were instrumental in this successful change,” Rowe said. “Due to personnel changes, we are very short-handed. When we tried to work with a different local contractor, they quickly abandoned the project. Merit’s engineers stepped in on short notice and provided strong technical expertise. Additionally, they really understand what we are about and what we are trying to do; they brought a perspective of project management suitable to an educational environment. We intend to continue to involve Merit engineers in our network projects.”

Oakland has two connections to Merit’s network for redundancy, and Milliken said that the secondary connection will most likely be upgraded from 1 Gbps to 10 Gbps later this year.

Oakland University is a Governing Member of Merit Network and joined the Merit Community in 1985. They were the fifth public university in Michigan to join Merit, following Michigan State University, University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Western Michigan University. Oakland’s chief information officer assists with the leadership of Merit, serving on the board of directors with 11 representatives from Michigan’s public universities.

About Oakland University

Oakland University is a world-class academic institution located on 1,443 acres of wooded hills and meadows in Rochester, Michigan. A vibrant academic community, Oakland University currently enrolls more than 20,000 students, boasts nearly 100,000 alumni, and delivers more than 260 degree and certificate programs.

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About Merit Network

Merit Network Inc., is a nonprofit corporation owned and governed by Michigan’s public universities. Merit owns and operates America’s longest-running regional research and education network. In 1966, Michigan’s public universities created Merit as a shared resource to help meet their common need for networking assistance. Since its formation, Merit Network has remained on the forefront of research and education networking expertise and services. Merit provides high-performance networking and IT solutions to Michigan’s public universities, colleges, K-12 organizations, libraries, state government, healthcare, and other non-profit organizations.

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