In the Graduate School of Education they use many different types of computers for many different things. Some staff will use their computers for typing long documents or letters; others may use them for creating PowerPoint presentations for lectures. In most organisations people will use their computers for similar things, but this isnt the case in a university.
There are a number of servers, and these all do different jobs. Each server is allocated a name, and this is unique over the whole campus. Most of the main file servers are held within the computer centre. This allows them to rectify any problems that may arise if a server fails. All of the main servers work on dual hardware, and are hot swappable. This means that if one processor fails, or if one Random Access Memory slot fails, they are able to replace it, without any down time.
The only time the server would go down would be in the case of a Power Supply Unit failing, and this can be fixed in a matter of minutes. In the computer centre all the computers are connected to a UPS and surge protection, in the form of sockets around the centre. The surge protection will stop computer components being damaged due to a spike on the national grid, and the UPS will take over if there is a power cut. The UPS can provide power to the servers in the computer centre for a considerable amount of time.
The smaller servers all have a small UPS, and these are configured to shut the server down if the power is off for any longer than 10 minutes. This means that all unsaved files are saved to the hard disk.
In the Graduate School of Education there are 4 small servers, and these all do different jobs. There are 2 domain controllers. The primary one is called Charlie and the backup is called Bravo. There are also 2 Macintosh database servers. One is a Mac G3 and the other is a PowerMac.
In the main computer centre there are too many servers to mention here, and they are not all related to the Graduate School of Education. The ones they would use are the Student record server and the Library server. Both of these servers run on a telnet server (on port 23), and this allows secure access to them from inside the campus.
All departments in the university have their own domain controllers. Domain controllers are usually rented or let to people by domain name hosting companies. This sometimes has an advantage, if anything goes wrong, their technical support staff will rectify the problem, but in a university there are plenty of qualified people that can work with domain controllers.
Because all the domain controllers are kept on campus, if JANET was to go down for some reason, for example, the cable was dug up; all the university domains would still work. So, a clumsy fore person does not check that the area they will be digging in is clear of cables, and they begin work. They hit the fibre optic cable and the universitys Internet connection goes down. They will still be able to go to any of the university domains, for example, http://www.edu.qub.ac.uk or http://www.qub.ac.uk. The university network is fairly self reliant in this way.
A domain controller does not have to be a very fast or powerful machine, but it is usually just a normal server. Here is a rough idea of the hardware and price used in the domain controller:
File Server Case
Top of Form
Lian Li PC 71 Aluminium Full-TowerBottom of Form
Power Supply (High Power Output)
Top of Form
Antec TruePower 550W PSUBottom of Form
Top of Form
Asus P4S533-MX (Socket 478) Micro ATX MotherboardBottom of Form
Top of Form
APC Smart-UPS 1500 USB/RS-232Bottom of Form
Top of Form
Crucial 512MB DDR PC2700 CAS 2.5Bottom of Form
2 Case Fans
Top of Form
Delta 60mm FanBottom of Form
CPU Heat Sink and Fan
Top of Form
Salman CNPS7000-AlCu Ultra Quiet CPU CoolerBottom of Form
40GB High Speed Hard Disk
Top of Form
IBM/Hitachi Deskstar 7K250 40GBBottom of Form
Ultrium Backup System
Hewlett Packard StorageWorks Ultrium 460i
Pentium 4 Processor
Top of Form
Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz (800FSB) with HT Technology Extreme EditionBottom of Form
Heat Sink Compound (High Quality)
Top of Form
Arctic Silver III Thermal Compound (3g)Bottom of Form
Graphics card, monitor and other peripherals can be salvaged from older machines
As you can see from the about table, even the simplest server can cost a lot of money, the most expensive part of the server is the Uninterruptible Power Supply, but this would not need to be purchased every time a new server is bought.
The database servers hold information on different things in the department. The graduate school of education use them for holding information on students and staff, like addresses and telephone numbers. It is much more effective than using paper to hold data. The database servers are Macintosh. They are often seen as expensive, useless machines, but the Macintosh computers are much more powerful than a conventional PC, and their main drawback is that it is difficult to obtain software for them, and no pc software is compatible with them.
The university network is quite a big system, and could probably be described as a Wide Area Network, because of its size, although it is really just a very large Local Area Network. Here is a small network diagram showing how the Queens Network works.
Hopefully from this very simple diagram you can see how big the university really is, and how much it costs for electricity alone every year. Between all the universities in the United Kingdom there is a shared Internet connection. This is a fibre optic system. There is a slight difference between using a fibre and using copper cables. One small fibre can carry up to 1,900 phone calls. This is quite a big difference compared to 30 over one copper cable. This means that the computer users in the University will have very fast Internet access, and between other universities, it can be possible to download a full CDs worth of data (700MB) in around 10 seconds, and that isnt with just one user using the network at that time. The speed of JANET is quite hard to measure with complete accuracy, and it is changing in speed every day. Between departments there are also fibre optic cables, as this allows more data to be transferred.
Once you get into a department the fibre is brought into a hub, and from the hub to each computer you have a copper cable. This is maybe not the most efficient way, but it is much cheaper than having a fibre optic system the whole way around the department.
Looking at the diagram above you will see that the Graduate School of Education is a small part of the university network. Here is a slightly more detailed diagram of the network in this particular section:
The network is too large to show in much more detail than shown above. There are roughly 150 computers in this one department alone, and across campus there is anything between 2000-6000 computers connected to the network. They are all connected centrally at the main Queens hub, so from anywhere on campus you can find a route to anywhere else. Also, if for some reason the main hub failed, departments would still be able to send files to each other, as long as it did not need to leave the department.
Workstations and Software
Because the department is large, it may be difficult to find two computers that are the same in hardware specification. Generally they are all normal, domestic computers, although the computer lab has desktop cases instead of ATX, This does not really affect how they work. Data can be shared between all the computers using the public directories, although only staffs have access to these. All computers are connected to the network using 3Com network cards, running on 10 Mega bits / second. This is the only real speed limitation of the network.
All workstations have the Microsoft Office Suite which is part of the Microsoft Office Campus Agreement, and FrontPage and Publisher have a separate license for certain departments, as these are not part of the campus agreement as a whole. They also have a copy of Symantec Antivirus, which is updated through the Symantec server, and this provides up to date virus protection. Staff have access to Adobe PageMaker 6.5 and Macromedia Dreamweaver.
Here is a more detailed look at the different software that the School of Education use.
* Microsoft Word This has many uses. Some staff may use it to type letters and notices; some may use it for typing assignments or taking minutes from a meeting; students may use it for its desktop publishing ability or for typing up coursework/essays.
* Microsoft Excel This is Microsofts spreadsheet software and is used in many ways also. Some staff may use it to keep track of students progress; some may use it to keep track of outgoing and incoming money; students may use it to create graphs.
* Microsoft PowerPoint This can be used for many things as well. Some lecturers would use it for creating transparencies for lectures, but in this high-tech age it would be more likely for them to use it in conjunction with a digital projector. There are a number of these available to staff during the day. Students could sometimes use it for revision purposes, or for slide shows in class participation exercises.
* Microsoft Publisher This is used for desktop publishing and creating transparencies for lectures.
* Microsoft FrontPage This is Microsofts web design software. It is often used by many professional designers, but does not really have a use in the education department.
* Microsoft Access This is Microsofts database package, and it is very versatile. It can be used to create macros so that on a click of a button you can enter large amounts of data into a database or delete old records. The macros are easy to program using Microsoft Visual BASIC.
* Adobe PageMaker This is professional desktop publishing software. Many members of staff use it to create professional looking signs and posters, and is often similar to the software used by large businesses to create flyers.
Many larger businesses may have their own database software written for them. Many companies like Northbrook Technologies write these programs especially for them. It can cost thousands to get that kind of software written. They often use many different programming languages, usually C++, which is very advanced and can take years to learn. As the university does not have many departments that do exactly the same thing, database software designed just for the university would cost too much, and probably push student fees up quite a considerable amount. Often Microsoft Access is more than enough to fulfil the needs of the departments requiring databases.
There are many different hardware devices in the university. The most expensive would probably be the digital cameras and projectors, and these may take some time to replace if they are damaged. The cheaper devices like mice, keyboards and disk drives are easily replaced, and there are many spares in the university. There are many different types of printers available, usually mono colour laser printers and colour ink jets, but there are some colour laser printers available. Printer cartridges are replaced when needed, and are purchased with discount, as they are in very large numbers. Scanners are available in computer rooms for student use.