Jerry Boyd, assistant director of network services, had $10 million in funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as stimulus funding, to do a wholesale infrastructure upgrade at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville. While he could have taken the easy way out and used the university's existing contracts to upgrade the equipment, he went to the trouble of evaluating his needs, wrote Requests for Proposals and Requests for Quotes, and operated through a bid process, which he believes got the university more of what it needed rather than settling for what it could get under contract.
Boyd starting putting the proposals together in mid-2009 and received approval at the beginning of the year. He hopes to have the infrastructure program finished by June or July of next year and has a hard deadline of August 31, due to requirements associated with receiving stimulus money. The campus has 30 buildings and 11,000 students on 235 acres.
While not all buildings, such as the residential areas, will be wired, the ones that will have a minimum of 10Gb connections and a template that determines how many switches and ports are set up per floor. Typically this will be 96, based on a duplex drop in each room and 30 to 50 eligible rooms per floor.
Previously, the school had primarily Enterasys Networks switches, as well as gear from Hewlett-Packard Co. and Foundry Networks Inc. The college decided to go to a common platform and sent out an RFQ to a number of pre-qualified manufacturers, including Cisco, Brocade, Enterasys, Extreme, and Juniper. The lowest bid meeting all specifications was from Extreme.
The school is partnering with a number of surrounding rural entities, including community colleges and public schools, to offer services such as web-based instruction through videoconferencing. "Hopefully, we can help the surrounding schools to meet some of their needs using our facility and programs," Boyd says. For example, Putnam County has a virtual high school project it is considering expanding, he explains.