Emory Report

April 13, 1998

 Volume 50, No. 28

Technology Source

New data network already
installed on campus' east side

The manner by which Emory units transfer data is in the process of an upgrade. In this case "data" refers to information primarily sent and received via electronic mail and the Internet.

For four years our core network has been a fiber distributed data interface (FDDI) supporting top data transfer speeds of 100 megabits/second. The typical "blueprint" of an FDDI network looks like a circle with stations or, in the case of Emory, entire buildings attached to it. Communications are passed around the ring in the form of "tokens," and only one token can be present on the ring at any time, preventing data "collisions" on the network. FDDI technology certainly has proven its reliability, but, unfortunately, it only tolerates a certain amount of expansion-and in the world of networking you're only as fast as your slowest link.

To improve performance of established network applications such as e-mail and the World Wide Web and to provide the infrastructure required for new and future applications, ITD has been converting the Emory network to a 155 megabit/second asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) network. The increase in data transfer speeds, however, is due to more than just the bit/second rate. The ATM architecture allows Emory to allocate bandwidth better on the core network. What's more, ATM is a data transfer method that is based on fixed-length "cells" that can carry voice, video and data transmissions. Unlike FDDI, an ATM network can be continuously upgraded to handle higher speeds. The conversion to ATM should be transparent to the user, except for improved performance.

Emory's migration to an ATM network has taken place over the past 12 months. Today all data communication to and from the "east campus" is taking place over an ATM network. This has tripled the available bandwidth to the Goizueta Business School, the Data Center, the law school, the math and computer science area and other facilities. The core ATM infrastructure will be in place by September.

For more information on Emory's ATM installation, visit the network operations web page at <http://www.emory.edu/ITD/NETOPS/EMORY-ATM>.

Linda Erhard is senior multimedia developer in Information Technology Division's Administrative Services.

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