University of Saskatchewan researchers are betting that Cisco technology will help them in their effort to move electrons at the speed of light.

Saskatoon-based University of Saskatchewan has begun a major network upgrade project

throughout its campus. The school will be using Cisco Systems Canada Co. technology as it moves its IT from Coax shared 10 MB cable onto Cat-5 and Cat-6 wiring. All of the existing 7,000 network connections will be upgraded and an additional 2,000 will be installed, says University of Saskatchewan director of IT services Ed Pokraka.

“”All of the connects will be upgraded to 10/100 MB and there will be some that will be at 1 GB. The network backbone within the buildings and between the buildings will be upgraded up to 10 GB as required,”” he says.

The university undertook this project, spanning U of S’s entire 40 building campus, to address the Internet access needs of its researchers, Pokraka says.

The university is in a unique position in Canada in that it has programs in all of the university study disciplines, he says. These include medicine, pharmacy and nursing to dentistry, law and engineering. It is also home to the Western College of Veterinary Medicine School. There is a lot of research going on in those 40 buildings, he says.

One of the research projects played an important role in making the university consider a network upgrade, explains Cisco account manager Rick Krauss.

The U of S is home to the Canadian Light Source Project, heralded as the biggest Canadian scientific project in a generation. The project has resulted in Canada’s first synchrotron facility where researchers will work on accelerating electrons to nearly the speed of light, producing intense light beams for probing the structure of matter. It is hoped that the CLS will lead to the development of more powerful microchips, new drugs, and safer medical implants amongst other applications.

Work of such scale requires cooperation between researchers and they in turn require access to the highest speed networks possible, Pokraka says.

The University of Saskatchewan did not wait for massive dissent amongst its researchers to begin the upgrade, Pokraka says, choosing to be proactive instead.

That seems to be the mindset of most Canadian universities and colleges where Cisco has been seeing a lot of demand, Krauss says. Some of the infrastructure is getting old, he admits, and has to be replaced. But in many cases Canadian schools seem to be quite forward looking when it comes to technology.

“”I don’t know why,”” Krauss muses. “”Universities and colleges, the perception is that they’re somewhat conservative. They definitely have financial challenges but they’ve been very aggressive in deploying these types of technologies.””

According to Cis

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