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MCLA adds IT upgrades


It’s the biggest change students aren’t likely to notice.

Over the past several months, MCLA has gone through a series information technology (IT) upgrades that enable them – as well as faculty and staff – to use the newest technology tools with greater ease and faster speed than ever before.

The upgrades include the replacement of the campus’s network and wireless systems, additional bandwidth, a switchover of the telephone system to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), as well as a new website and e-mail system.

IT UpgradesAccording to Curt King, MCLA’s chief information officer, the improvements – which began in July – should be completed by the end of next summer.

“What will make the most impact – but which students, faculty and staff probably won’t notice as much – is the wire and wireless upgrade,” King said. “We had an eight-year-old network system that hadn’t been upgraded in the past few years. The network wasn’t able to use any of the new security functions that are available, and also it wasn’t able to handle the new wireless load that was being brought upon it.”

Students typically bring numerous wireless devices to campus.

“They’ve got an Xbox, their phone, their tablets, their PCs, and other things. So, this puts a great deal of pressure on a network to handle it all efficiently, and we just did not have that infrastructure in place,” he said. “It’s one of those things that, once you fix it, no one notices because it’s just working.”

Upgrades to the residence halls and some of the common areas have been completed. Next up will be the administrative and academic buildings.

“We have a plan to hit the items building by building,” King explained. “There are timing issues for getting into some academic buildings, for example, when the students aren’t there.”

As a result of the work that already has been completed in the residence halls and in the common areas, the increased bandwidth allows students have more access to wireless and greater network capabilities.

“We’re multiplying the amount of the bandwidth we have by about three-and-a-half times,” King said.

The Vo IP system is in place in buildings already equipped with the upgraded wireless and increased bandwidth. With this telephone system, MCLA has access to a number of options with regard to emergency management and notifications. In addition, a feature called “find me” will track down the person being called if they are away from their desk.

“It finds my desk phone. Then, if it doesn’t find me, it rings my cell phone. We have different options now, just using our different network connections,” King said. “I also can use the phone as a speaker phone and as a zone alarm. It’s like an intercom system. I can notify buildings that there’s an issue or a snow event, through the phones.”

As the network is replaced in each campus building, the new phone system will follow. King explained that the various information technology systems are connected so they can “talk” to and facilitate one another in various operations.

“Trying to keep up with the ‘next thing’ is a blast,” King said. “It’s great fun to be here at this time, during the development of all of this.”