Internet Service upgrades

December 20, 2010
By Chris Dlugosz and Doug Foxgrover

Summary:  There will be up to 3 brief (5-10 minutes) Internet disruptions on Tuesday, 21 December, 2010, between 11 am and 1:00 pm. 

If you have questions or concerns, please contact Rapid Response at  x5999.


Carleton has been upgrading its Internet service over the past few weeks.  So far, these improvements have been put in place in such a way as to require no service disruptions.  The next upgrade will take place tomorrow (Tuesday, 21 December 2010) and will require some small service interruptions.

The gains:

We have already increased our capacity to carry Internet traffic (email to and from off-campus, web browsing, etc.).

We are about to increase the number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who are delivering Internet traffic for Carleton.

We are about to increase our allowance of Commodity Internet traffic.  That's the kind of Internet traffic most of us use most of the time.  (The other kind of Internet traffic is called "Internet2" or "I2", and is a special kind of Internet traffic used under certain circumstances.)

The service disruptions:

There will be 1, 2 or 3 brief Internet service interruptions on Tuesday, 21 December.  These will take place between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm.  During these interruptions, we will be reconfiguring some of our network equipment to connect to our new ISP, and handle the new increase in Internet bandwidth.

During each maintenance event, all off-campus connectivity (except to St. Olaf) will be interrupted for 5-10 minutes.  VPN connections onto or out from campus will be disrupted and may require a restart.  (If you are unfamiliar with the term "VPN", you can just ignore the previous sentence.)

More details for those who are interested, plus an analogy:

Our overall Internet traffic allowance has already improved.  We have a dedicated 1 Gb/sec pipe for Internet traffic from Carleton to the outside world.  (In the recent past, we shared this pipe with St. Olaf.)

Think of this in terms of plumbing.  Suppose we have a water pipe that is 1000 inches in diameter.  Suppose this pipe is carrying water to and from the campus.  That's how much capacity we have for water.

Now suppose we are sharing this pipe with St. Olaf.  Because they need to use a lot of water (just like we do), there is a big limit on how much water can come to and go from each campus.

So, if each campus gets its own 1000-inch diameter pipe, each campus can increase the amount of water it uses. 

Now - replace "inch" with "megabit" (1-million bits (ones and zeroes)), and replace "water" with "Internet traffic" (email to and from off-campus, web browsing, etc.), and you can get the idea for what's been changed/improved with our capacity for Internet traffic.

Using this pipe, we have up to 500 Mb/sec Internet2 traffic allowance.  (This allowance is not changing as a result of this work.)

Using this pipe, we have up to 100 Mb/sec Commodity Internet traffic allowance.

After tomorrow's work, we will have an additional 300 Mb/sec Commodity Internet traffic allowance.

What this all means is that we are increasing the capacity of Internet traffic between Carleton and the outside world.  (More capacity means less waiting when using the Web.) 

In addition, we are adding a second ISP (Internet Service Provider).  What this means is that, if one of our ISPs is having a problem (which happens from time to time), the other ISP can handle our Internet traffic.  In these cases, you might not even notice that there is a problem, because the other ISP is there to handle all the work.

If you have questions or concerns:

Please contact Rapid Response at x5999.