ResNet Advisory Council - As it appeared in the Purdue Exponent
Sunday, February 11, 2001, 3:00 AM - Computing Technology
Students may help to improve ResNet
By Rachael Conley
Assistant Campus Editor
Students experiencing problems with their residential network, or ResNet, now have a voice in the improvement process.
The ResNet Advisory Council will allow students to contribute in the efforts to improve the network that provides connectivity to students in University residences and off-campus student and faculty users.
"This new advisory group, co-chaired by the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology and University Residences, provides a mechanism for direct student participation in developing solutions to ResNet issues," said Jerry Sheehan, the associate vice president for information technology.
The council is made up of approximately 10 to 15 students living in the University residence halls, as well as people from the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology and the University Residences.
One student and member of the council said he feels there will be improvements in the ResNet service.
"I think we're going to see a lot of improvements with the quality of service in the future," said Travis Sugarbaker, a freshman in the School of Science.
Sugarbaker also said the approach that is currently being taken to fix the system is not pleasing many students.
"The approach they're currently taking to fix it isn't sitting well with students," he said.
The bandwidth limiting method currently used to allocate bandwidth includes primarily grouping everyone using ResNet into one category. Then each individual is pushed into one of three categories depending on the amount of information downloaded over a certain time span, said Sugarbaker. Those downloading too much can be throttled back to keep an even dispersal of bandwidth. Sugarbaker said the main issue is the network's lack of flexibility.
"The biggest problem is limited resources that Purdue has for computing with ResNet," he said.
When the network is very busy, some students using the system have problems checking e-mail and signing on to instant messenger services, Sugarbaker said.
The University is taking steps to make this dispersal more adequate and even for all users, said Sheehan.
"Disproportionate use by any one user reduces the availability of the resource for all users," he said.
The University also implemented a policy that placed limits on how much data a student could send or receive in a 24 hour period in the spring semester of 2001.
Recently, the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology has made efforts to re-examine current rate limits.
In the last month, small technical modifications have been made to the way users are limited, and members of the council and the University are still trying to improve performance.
Neil McNab, a sophomore in the Schools of Engineering and also a part of the advisory council, said another problem was logging on to the Internet.
McNab said it was comforting that when this was brought up in the meeting, the University officials had already fixed it.
"It's good to know that they're on top of these things," he said. "Now we know that there's something being done."
McNab also said the council creates a bridge across the gap between University officials and students.
"The council certainly opens up a dialogue between the University and the people that are using it," he said.
The council is not the only step the University is taking to improve the ResNet service.
A new research network called I-Light was made available in December of 2001 and is now being used to speed messages from Purdue to other research institutions.
"We're actually using I-Light to speed those messages to other research institutions," Sheehan said. "Off-loading this demand created improvement in the overall ResNet connection to the Internet."
The University is not only trying to improve the ResNet service to its users, but it is also trying to warn students about new viruses, said Sheehan.
A formal procedure to post information about viruses on "table notices" throughout University Residences and sending electric alerts to the Resident Computer Consultants is being created, Sheehan said.
McNab said although he didn't see a lot of problems with his Internet connection, he was glad the University is open to the council's ideas.
"I personally didn't really see a whole lot of problems with ResNet, but I know that there were a lot of people that did," he said. "The first thing I noticed right off the bat, was the ResNet staff that we're working with is really open to what we have to say."