The U of Calgary hops on the wireless and VoIP train

After the University of Calgary implemented a wireless infrastructure across its campus three years ago, the institution enlisted the help of ACSI (Alternative Converged Solutions Inc.) to implement BlueCat Networks‘ Adonis 500 DHPC (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) and Adonis 750 DNS (Domain Name System)/DHCP hardware appliances to monitor and manage their IP addresses and DNS and DHCP over the network.

Michael Hyatt, CEO and founder of Toronto-based BlueCat Networks, a vendor of IP address management devices, says the industry is at a time where we will soon exceed the number of available IPv4 addresses, which means businesses will be forced to utilize IPv6 addresses. His brother, Richard Hyatt, CTO and co-founder of BlueCat Networks, said IPv6 will soon become the replacement for IPv4.

“IPv6 addresses are four times longer than IPv4, but the sizes go up exponentially,” Richard Hyatt said. “With that, extra complexities follow because IP addresses become so large that people can’t type them in anymore.”

Business drivers such as wireless, IP phones, VoIP, printing and more, all demand separate IP addresses, which can often make keeping track of and managing them a challenge, Michael Hyatt said.

“It’s the first time in the history of the Internet when there are enough addresses out there that require some sort of management,” Michael Hyatt said. “Now there’s a dynamic shift in the market in how we have to start managing everything. We have hardware appliance solutions that manage and monitor that.”

Dean Berschl, network analyst at the University of Calgary, said the university has been allocated the use of up to 65,000 IP addresses. Of those, Berschl said the institution is currently using about 12,000 IP addresses; but that number continues to grow as technology evolves and services change. Due to the growing number of IP addresses that are added to the university every year, the University of Calgary therefore went to ACSI, a BlueCat Networks reseller based in Calgary, for help.

By working with BlueCat Networks, ACSI deployed and implemented the Adonis solution for the school. Today, the university is using a total of four devices which include two of each of BlueCat Network’s Adonis 500 and Adonis 750 appliances. Berschl said the university is so pleased with the solutions that they’re now considering adding more to manage their network moving forward.

“Before we started using Adonis, we were using manual procedures,” Berschl said. “We were using Microsoft software, but that didn’t help with the management and tracking of IP addresses and devices. We hit a point when there were eventually too many devices, subnets and administrators that wanted access to data. We needed a solution that would be accessible and 100 per cent reliable all the time.”

In a university environment, Berschl said there are never a whole lot of bodies devoted to the management and maintenance of IP addresses and devices over the network. Therefore, it was important for the institution to find a solution that could scale up while at the same time reducing maintenance and IT times.

“These solutions saved a lot of our IT time and it gave us functionality we never had before,” Berschl said. “With the appliance you’re able to see exactly what’s happening on your network and database at any given time by going onto a screen and pulling up everything on one console. You also get lists for each subnet and you can control IT access so employees are restricted to what they can see and do.”

Dean Townson, director of sales at ACSI, said the solution is user-friendly and once it has been set up, not much maintenance is required. What’s unique with the product, Townson said, is that it’s an appliance that comes already bundled with hardware and software.

“You’re not dealing with licenses and fees because it’s appliance-based licensing,” Townson said. “You buy the box and you buy the support contract and any maintenance along with it.”

With the four Adonis devices spread across its campus in its primary and failover data centres, Berschl said the university’s IT staff members no longer have to devote much time to managing and maintaining the solutions. The appliances help configure, deploy and administer IP addresses and also scale to monitor millions of them across multiple locations.

“We don’t have to babysit the system anymore,” Berschl said. “It’s a standalone appliance that does what it does in real-time and we don’t have to worry about anything else or wonder if the right guy got the right data and the update in time.”

Later this year, Berschl said the University of Calgary will also be utilizing VoIP technology.

He expects the university to add on another 5,000 or 6,000 IP addresses as the 5,000 or so employees at the university are then converted to VoIP phones.

“Our relationship with ACSI has been very good and we’re very happy with the BlueCat products,” Berschl said. “That’s why we’re considering adding on more as our services expand.”

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