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  OIT Home > Committees > ITPG > 1999 Proposals > NGB Phase I
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Next Generation Backbone, Phase I

  Project:  Next Generation Backbone, Phase I

Sponsor:  Backbone Engineering Group

Summary and Relevance

The Backbone Engineering Group has been working for the past 7 months on developing a design for enhancing the backbone network services available at UCSB. The principle goal of this "Next Generation Backbone" (NGB) is to be able to deliver bandwidth and network services as needed across campus. Our approach has been to build on the design and equipment of the Calren2 research network and evolve that network into a production network capable of addressing identified needs. Those needs include:

  • Access to higher bandwidth and enhanced network services.1
  • VLAN capabilities on the backbone network.2
  • Retirement of departmental routers (at dept. discretion).3
  • Better departmental access to 100Mb backbone connections.4
  • Broader access to Internet2 (Calren) to allow high bandwidth off campus connectivity.5
  • Address problems with Lanplex reliability on the FDDI backbone.6
  • Retirement of RIP routing on the backbone.7
  • Allow traffic filtering as a security tool.8

Design Overview

Our vision of a complete implementation of an expanded Calren network would consist of:

  • A core of gigabit Ethernet multi-layer switches ("distribution switches").
  • Each networked building would have as a backbone demarc a single layer 2 VLAN capable switch ("building switch") with a gigabit or 100Mb Ethernet link back to a distribution switch.
  • Each building switch would have enough 10/100 UTP ports to support the connections in that building.
  • Each distribution switch would be capable of providing IP routing for organizations attached to its building switches. OSPF will be the routing protocol on this network; it will not support RIP routing.
  • The VLAN configuration would allow the delivery of a routed subnet to a port or ports on a building switch, and would allow departmental VLANs between buildings
  • The implementation of the NGB would occur in an evolutionary manner, allowing more predictable equipment and maintenance costs, and taking advantage of decreasing equipment costs over time. This requires the ongoing support of parallel networks the FDDI and the NGB during the implementation period.

Preliminary estimates for a complete implementation of this design would be $1.5M in initial costs, and $380K/year of recurring costs. The tasks associated with centralized routing, VLAN implementation, and the potential for other advanced network service (such as filtering) imply additional staffing to support this network design.

Phase I Proposal

In order to meet as many of the driving needs as possible while providing a base for further evolution and expansion, we proposed the following initial implementation of the NGB:

  • Placement of distribution switches in locations where there are currently Lanplexes.
  • Establishing a single-mode fiber route between the distribution switches to allow gigabit Ethernet between them.
  • Placement of building switches in locations where there are currently departmental routers attached to the backbone (initially 100Mb links back to distribution switches; Gigabit will generally require single mode fiber and additional ports on the switches, which is planned for Phase II).
  • Units who need Gigabit connections to the backbone, or who need a building switch in a location currently not served by a router connected to the backbone, can self fund any necessary fiber and the backbone switch ports to accomplish this. Building switches are required for departmental connections; there will be no direct connections into a distribution switch.9
  • At the end of Phase I implementation, the Lanplexes can be retired.

The placement of the Phase I distribution and building switches is intended to make optimal use of existing fiber routes between departmental routers and the Lanplexes.

Design Goals Achieved by Phase I

  • Access to higher bandwidth and enhanced network services
  • VLAN capabilities on the backbone network
  • Retirement of departmental routers (at dept. discretion)
  • Better departmental access to 100Mb backbone connections
  • Broader access to Internet2 (Calren) to allow high bandwidth off-campus connectivity
  • Address problems with Lanplex reliability on the FDDI backbone
  • Retirement of RIP routing on the backbone
  • Allow traffic filtering as a security tool
  • To buildings with switches on Phase I
  • Isolation of RIP to a single VLAN


Initial hardware costs: $533,658
Wiring costs: $20,000 (not including any single mode fiber costs on distribution switch backbone)
Maintenance costs: $54,900/year (starting year 2)
Cyclical replacement costs after year 1 (assuming 5 year equipment life-cycle): $106,781/year

See attachment #1 for details.

Staff Support

As indicated above, the tasks associated with centralized routing, VLAN implementation, and the potential for other advanced network service (such as filtering) imply additional NOC staffing to support this network design.


Once funding has been allocated for this proposal, an RFP process for the equipment can be initiated, and any necessary fiber routes can be put in place. The infrastructure of distribution and building switches should be in place within two months of the conclusion of the RFP process. Departmental connections to this infrastructure can overlap the placement of the building switches, and will continue based upon urgency of departmental networking need.

Likely Phase II

Because current FDDI design has encouraged units to minimize the number of routers they need to purchase and support by building their local network in a way that places multiple buildings behind a single router, there are many buildings with significant networking needs who will not be directly served by Phase I. Extending the NGB to those buildings should proceed in a timely manner to deliver the benefits of this new network to the broadest possible segment of the campus.

The BEG will develop a proposal for Phase II after the funding of Phase I. It is likely that Phase II will include:

  • Single mode fiber along all the campus fiber rings to support Gigabit links between distribution switches and building switches where needed.
  • More building switches.
Notes marker


1 The backbone network should provide an infrastructure flexible enough to address varied needs across our distributed computing environment. This requires a design that provides the needed bandwidth and services, and also maximizes ease of access to the backbone from departmental networks. It should be noted that traffic on the existing FDDI backbone doubled between January and August 1999.  Back

2 VLAN provides a method of addressing the needs of buildings with multiple departments, and departments occupying multiple buildings. The alternative approach currently in use, results in needing multiple routers in a single building [e.g., South Hall] (with increased local costs for equipment and networking staff, and increased complexity of the overall network design); or the allocation of campus fiber or the placement of local fiber to expand the local network to buildings that are not necessarily contiguous [e.g., the classroom network] (at potentially significant local costs, and in some cases not doable based on distance limitations).  Back

3 Departmental routing requires local investments in equipment and staff, and if done poorly can negatively impact the entire campus network. The Calren2 design provides routing centrally -- that is, the connection to the backbone is a routed connection. Many of the departmental routers currently in place are old and need replacement; a centralized routing design would allow departments to choose not to replace those routers.  Back

4 Many departments are transitioning from 10Mb to 100Mb networks internally, but have 10Mb connections to the FDDI backbone. This networking bottleneck limits the ability of departments to take advantage of their 100Mb bandwidth when communicating with other on-campus locations (e.g., between a server in English and the Residence Halls) or off-campus (e.g., to take advantage of the increased external bandwidth that Calren has brought to campus). The cost of FDDI ports is significantly higher than the cost of 100Mb Ethernet ports, which has discouraged departments from upgrading their connections to the FDDI from 10Mb to 100Mb. If many departments did choose to upgrade to 100Mb FDDI connections, this could saturate the campus backbone, since the FDDI is a shared 100Mb network and interdepartmental communication at 100Mb would contend with all other network traffic.  Back

5 Access to the high bandwidth external connectivity of the Calren network was provided to the original Calren researchers through the funding for that project. For others to access that bandwidth would require a physical route to a switch on the Calren network. For some areas of campus, this would require extensive cable costs. The evolution of the NGB should attempt to improve general access to Calren with the minimum fiber installation costs.  Back

6 The 3Com LanPlex 2500 Ethernet switches which connect departmental Ethernets to the FDDI have been subject to hardware failures in both the backplane/CPU and the line cards. This makes them expensive in terms of staff time required. They also do not support "hot swap" insertion of new cards without network disruptions. Several units have already been repaired, and if we maintain our reliance on this approach to attachments to the backbone, the others will need to be replaced.  Back

7 The redistribution of network routes between devices using the current OSPF protocol and devices using the older RIP protocol has been problematic, and has resulted in the periodic inability of some areas of campus to connect to services on other areas of campus. (E.g., ccnh.ucsb.edu, which houses the services running under COMPLETE, can become unreachable to departments in some areas of L&S.) The BEG has been committed to eliminating RIP routing on the backbone for some time; it persists only to support legacy departmental devices.  Back

8 Inadequate traffic filtering capabilities result in significant impacts to service during security incidents. For example, a single compromised host in a department may be used to launch denial-of-service attacks. The most appropriate response would be to filter traffic involving the compromised host. The alternative is to disconnect the entire department subnet.  Back

9 Some existing Calren locations do not have an equivalent of a building switch in place. When a local building switch with a Gigabit uplink is available, either in Phase I or later, these units will need to connect to the local building switch instead of directly to a Calren switch (which has in effect become a distribution switch).  Back


Attachment #1

Cost estimates, as of October 22, 1999

Assuming each location has the following gear (parts named are for reference, using street retail pricing; switch is generic, unspecified):

Qty Price Description
1 $399.99 DWR-10-22-PD Datatel Datawall 19" cabinet, wallmount
1 $429.99 0520-750RU Best Power Fortress 750 rackmount
1 $340.20 AT-MCR12-10 12-slot media converter rack chassis
1 $229.50 AT-MC101XL-10 100TX-100FX media converter w/ST fiber
1 $5200.00 Switch, 24 port 10/100BT, SNMP/802.1Q VLAN, etc.

[Note that the wallmount cabinet is an enclosed unit and somewhat expensive. An exposed wallmount rack with 20+" depth, 15+" height, and minimum 100 lbs. capacity would suffice.]

Total building equipment for 35 locations (see below) and one spare switch: $236,200.

Estimated maintenance: $15,000/yr ($14,400 equip, plus replacement UPS battery.)

Estimate $500/ea to pull interfaces back to BTP, 30 interfaces (yes, this is probably high): $15,000

We should be able to acquire 6 distribution boxes (and 1 spare) at ~$38K ea (based upon 16 ports 10/100BT, and between 2-8 ports GigLX). 7 UPS will run about $1400. Media converter: $21,658. Emergency power has not been wired at HRC, Snidecor, PSN; assume $5000. (PSN should be very easy, but HRC/Snidecor are more expensive.) Hardware: $297,458 Wiring: $5000 Maint: $39,900  

Attachment #2

List of Building Termination Panels to be covered by Phase I

BTP Bldg# Building Name Department
534 534 Arts Art Studio, Art Museum, Art History
572 572 Broida Physics
552 552 Cheadle L&S, Acad Personnel, Chancellor, Public Affairs, Grad Div, Ofc of Research
489 489 Chem Research Chemistry
494 494 Creative Studies Creative Studies
525 525 Davidson Lib Library, Alexandria
563A, 563B 563 Ellison HSSC, Geography, ICESS
556 556 Engineering I College of Engineering
ERC ERC Engr. Research Ocean Engineering Lab
581 581 Faculty Club Faculty Club
564 564 Girvetz Env. Studies, Academic Senate, Crustal
515B? 515 HSSB L&S (various)
HRC HRC Hollister Research Inst. Adv., Educ. Abroad, Loan Collect., Extension
591 591 Kerr Hall Instructional Development
567 567 Kohn Hall Inst. for Theor. Physics
555 555 Arts Art Studio, Art Museum, Art History
534 534 Mar Bio Lab Marine Biology
342 342 Marine Science Marine Science Institute
451 451 Military Science Military Science
531 531 Music Music
544C 544 Noble Hall NS2, LifeSci/Psych
535 535 North Hall IS&C, Econ Frct Proj, CalTrans, ISBER
560A, 560C? 560 Phelps IC, L&S, GSE
557A 657 PhysSci North Chemistry
574 574 Arts Art Studio, Art Museum, Art History
534 534 Public Safety Police, CommServ
981 981 QUEST QUEST (may change soon)
533 533 Rob Gym Athletics
568 568 SAASB Student Affairs
554B 554 Arts Art Studio, Art Museum, Art History
534 534 Snidecor Speech & Hearing, Dramatic Arts
528A 528 South Hall L&S (various), Ofc of Research
558 558 UCen Assoc Students, Bookstore, UCen admin
526 526 Webb Hall Geology
434 434 Womens' Center CLAS, Tutorial Center, Womens' Center

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