The University of Stellenbosch is using the IT industry to broaden development


By Thandisizwe Mgudlwa

STELLENBOSCH University is showing maturity.

It is not only keeping up with the times but also showing other learning institutions that these things can be done.

The university, which is ranked second in South Africa and 455 worldwide, has recently undergone a massive IT refurbishment putting it on the map amongst higher educational institutes as it enables students, researchers and academics better access to its central network.

This multi-million rand project that saw the replacement of the university’s existing core network will enable South African researchers at the South African Research Network (SANReN) to have improved connectivity to the university and increased sharing of information.

SANReN is part of the Government of South Africa’s initiative to ensure that South African researchers have access to the best infrastructure through a high-speed network for optimal productivity.

Further revealed is that the upgrade also allows university staff and researches to have faster accessibility to the world’s biggest scientific project and telescope, Square Kilometre Array Radio Telescope (SKA).

The IT reconstruction took place at the main campus that hosts the faculties of arts and social sciences, science, education, agrisciences, law, theology, economic and management sciences and engineering. And It consisted of replacing the core switches with Huawei S9300 terabit routing switches for improved inter-connectivity and newly released state-of-the-art blades (40 ports 10GE), the first
to ever be installed in South Africa.

Johan de Villiers, Managing Director of First Technology, one of South Africa’s largest, independent national IT solutions providers, said: “The original switches were replaced with high port density 10 gigabyte switches.”

“And the proper labeling and documentation by our technical team means a structured network that improves daily usage and fault finding.”

In addition, as one of our country’s 23 public tertiary education institutions that are key to eradicating poverty in Africa, the University of Stellenbosch has four campuses for both local and international students.

While Joe Smit Director Services & Operations at Stellenbosch University commented: “The technology enhancement utilized Huawei products, specifically due to their port density benefits, to improve the stability and speed of the network as well as increase performance in terms of bandwidth to the 16 000 on-campus students, lecturers and researchers.”

“An added bonus is that it has led to less power usage so fitting in with our green philosophy.”

During the roll-out technicians were only allowed 30-second interruptions of any given network connection. Disturbances and impact to staff and students were minimal, rare to a project of this size.

Albert Meyer, Manager Services & Infrastructure at Stellenbosch University added: “The next phase of our technology reconstruction sees the upgrade of fibre links to campus users and then the infrastructures at all Stellenbosch buildings.”

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