BOT to hear proposal about implementing virtual machines, upgrading Wi-Fi

Analicia Haynes, Editor-in-Chief

Eastern is hitting the technology refresh button by introducing a proposal to implement virtual machines or virtual desktops across campus.

The proposal, a roughly $860,000 initiative that includes upgrading Wi-Fi to be more compatible with the 10 gigabyte backbone Eastern now has and adding close to 300 computers to labs on campus, will be voted on by the Board of Trustees at its meeting Friday.

Eastern President David Glassman said at a Jan. 18 Council on University Planning and Budget meeting that if approved by the Board, this will mark the start of a three- to four-year-long process to “refresh” every computer on campus with a virtual machine.

“(To) continue our direction of our technology upgrades for the university (there is) about an $860,000 request for approval (from the Board, and) this is going to go to Wi-Fi upgrading and replacement of old Wi-Fi across campus … also changing switches around the university to make it better,” Glassman said. “We now have this 10 gig back bone we want to be able to use it and maximize it.”

The first technology upgrade was a roughly $700,000 plan to redo the infrastructure of Eastern’s information technology services last year.

ITS received new servers, and Paul McCann, the interim vice president of business affairs, said the project is nearly complete and they are just testing the new servers before replacing the old ones.

The funds for both projects came from local funds, McCann said, such as student fees.

Glassman said ITS is providing $500,000-$600,000 from its budget, as it did with last year’s project, to fund this year’s project. Housing and Dining is also providing about $260,000 from its budget to be applied to the $860,000 project, Glassman and McCann said.

The money for this year’s project is currently available, McCann said.

A virtual machine is a box that sits on a person’s desk that hooks into the network, McCann said. That network then communicates with the servers, which is where someone’s memory or data will be instead of on just one particular machine.

McCann said everything will be on the servers.

“This idea is not new; it was a popular way of doing things,” McCann said. “This generation of it is much faster and much better. You won’t even know that your data is not at your desktop.”

McCann broke it down even more and said if he was sitting at his desk and on his desktop, he could get up and go to a different desktop, log in and what he would see at his desk would be in that new location.

Glassman said this year they are starting with 200 machines, and next year they are looking to buy an additional 400 or 600.

“We want to start with 200, get people connected, make sure we figure out any of the little bugs that might take place,” Glassman said. “This is really our technology vitalization that’s coming in the next 10 years.”

However there will be some exceptions on campus.

In departments such as graphic design or journalism where Apple computers are needed, those computers and the software on the computers will remain.

Other than the exceptions, Glassman said the goal is to migrate the rest of campus to virtual machines and starting with areas of priority. These priorities are based on need and age of the computers currently in place, McCann said.

“This is a very important element to our success in the future,” Glassman said.

The Board of Trustees meeting will be at 2 p.m. Friday in the University Ballroom of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].