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The Managed Network Service (MNS) provides an institution with a fully managed and supported Local Area Network.  It can be delivered to any University institution connected to the University Data Network (UDN), including colleges, departments and other institutions.

Contents

Key benefits

The key benefits of using the MNS over an institution running their own network are:

  • Supported by a team using common working practices to ensure depth of coverage in the event of staff absence.
  • One-off setup charge covers the installation of the network: requirements analysis, design, configuration and installation.
  • Annual charge covers the ongoing cost of running a network: reconfiguration, support, maintenance and equipment replacement.
  • The UIS monitoring and troubleshoot problems with the network.
  • Industry standard switches used throughout.
  • Network designed to meet customer requirements.
  • Hardware spares and configuration backups are held by the UIS to provide a rapid resolution for any equipment failures, without waiting for replacement parts to arrive from a supplier.

The UIS provides support within its normal hours 09:00-17:00, Monday to Friday.

The full responsibilities of the UIS and local IT support are given below.

Charges

There are two main components to the charging:

  • One-off initial setup charge
    Covers requirements analysis, design, equipment purchase, configuration and installation.
  • Annual charge
    The ongoing cost of running a network: reconfiguration, support, troubleshooting, maintenance and equipment replacement.

In some cases, institutions may need to purchase and retain ownership of the equipment covered — in this case, the charges are reduced accordingly.  The UIS will state how long it is able to support the equipment and the institution must budget to replace the equipment when it is no longer supported.

Technical specifications

The exact specification will vary according to customer needs at each site but will typically include: 

  • Standard edge ports are 10M-/100M-/1Gbit/s-capable with PoE — suitable for desktops, printers and telephones.
  • Higher performance 1G/2½/5Gbit/s-capable [mGig] with "PoE+"/"PoE++" [802.3at/802.3bt] edge ports are available — recommended for more powerful wireless access points.
  • 10Gbit/s inter-switch links (1Gbit/s also available but only recommended for smaller networks with low bandwidth requirements).

The actual equipment to be used will be selected by the UIS and may change with each installation and when the equipment is replaced (either when it's due to be replaced or because it is technically desirable for the UIS to do this ahead of time).

Constraints

Where the MNS is employed, it must cover the entirety of the local network: it is not possible to have parts of the network provided by the MNS and other parts provided by the institution themselves, with their own switches.

Mini-switches (such as small fanout 8-port switches) must not be attached to an MNS: all devices must be attached directly to individual edge ports.  If there is a need for additional ports, this must be discussed with the UIS and either a UIS-managed switch supplied, or additional ports installed.

Setup process

When a request is made for the MNS the UIS follows the following process:

  1. Survey / requirements gathering
  2. Design / quote
  3. Purchasing
  4. Configuration
  5. Installation

Survey / requirements gathering

The UIS will speak to the institution to determine what their requirements are.  This will include:

  • A list of all new and existing wiring closets / cabinets to be covered.
  • Per closet:
    • The number of active ports which will be required.
    • A breakdown of the number of ports for each type of device (computer/printer, wireless access points, BMS, CCTV, etc.).  This allows the appropriate types of port to be provided (e.g. mGig/PoE++ ports for wireless access points).
  • Topology and types of physical cabling interconnecting the closets / cabinets.

If there are any minor works required, it is most convenient if these can be provided by the UIS Passive Infrastructure Projects group so these can be coordinated internally within the UIS, rather than having to explain requirements to an external party.

Important!  When counting the requirements for the numbers of ports required for each type, the UIS will not add any "fat" to the numbers to allow for future expansion — this is to avoid inflating the numbers at multiple points in the process.  As such, it is important that institutions allow for this themselves: although extra equipment can be purchased later, it is important to ensure there is capacity for it in wiring closets.

Design / quote

Once the requirements have been determined, the UIS will design a suitable topology and the work out the required equipment to produce a quote giving both the initial setup and annual charges.

This design may be iterated with the institution and/or projects team, if required to arrive at a suitable design.

Purchasing

If the institution wishes to go ahead with the network, they should submit a PO for the setup fee.

In most cases, the UIS will then need to order and wait for the equipment to arrive.  In some, smaller cases, the UIS may already have suitable equipment to install immediately.

Configuration

Once the equipment is received, the UIS will configure it ready for installation.

Installation

The installation of the new equipment is likely to be disruptive to the institution: even if the new equipment can be installed alongside the other, there will be an outage whilst the edge port cabling is moved across.  In many cases, the closets may already be full of the old equipment and this will need to be removed before the new equipment can be installed, which could take several hours.

Institution-owned equipment

There are two reasons an institution may wish to make use of the MNS but purchase and own the equipment itself:

In both cases, the MNS charges will be reduced as they no longer need to cover the supply or replacement of the equipment.  Instead, the institution will need to:

  • Budget for the replacement of the equipment — this can either be to pay it directly (and continue to own the new equipment), or to pay the setup charges to join the MNS (covering the equipment purchase) when the existing equipment reaches the end of its life.
  • Handle equipment failure replacement — if there is a fault piece of equipment, the UIS will diagnose it and can replace it.  The institution must, however, supply the replacement kit (either replaced under a warranty or support agreement, or by sourcing a new unit) — this includes the liaising with the supplier or support partner, as well as receipt of the replacement and collection of the faulty unit.  As the UIS does not own the equipment, it cannot swap in its own for faulty units, there may be an extended outage until the replacement equipment is obtained, if the institution does not hold spares.  The replacement equipment can be a different model, if an exact match is not available, but the UIS reserves the right to charge for time, if the switch is subsequently replaced again when the replacement for the faulty unit is received.

Once adopted, the annual service charge is £230 per switch to cover management, monitoring and other maintenance.

Adopting existing equipment

It is often the case that an institution is interested in the MNS but has an existing network with active network equipment which may have a number of years of useful life left.  In many cases, the UIS are able to adopt this existing equipment into the MNS, typically with a view to replace it with the standard UIS-supplied equipment, as it reaches the end of its life.

The exact equipment will need to be examined to confirm its suitability, but will typically need to be:

  • remotely manageable, using a platform which the UIS can support (typically Cisco IOS or HP ProVision-based),
  • receiving support for software updates (in particular, security fixes), either in the form of a lifetime warranty (as part of the purchase price) or a separate contract, and
  • within the lifetime of a typical network switch (approx. 7 years)

If equipment can be adopted, the UIS will advise the length of time until it will need to be replaced.  There is a one-off charge of one hour of UIS consultancy (charged at UIS standard rate) time to cover the work to reconfigure the switch onto the new network.

New institution-owned equipment

Alternatively, an institution may need to purchase new equipment itself and retain ownership of it — the UIS can adopt this equipment and manage it for a reduced cost.  In this case, the UIS will perform all the normal requirements analysis and design phases but the equipment list will be passed to the institution to procure itself.

Any equipment purchases must be agreed with the UIS, in terms of models, additional modules, what their intended role is within the network.

Power protection

For more critical areas of the network, the UIS can provide power protection to network equipment.  Power protection typically consists of two elements:

  • an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) is essentially a large battery that continues to provide power, in the event that the primary supply fails: it is typically connected between the mains supply and the primary power input to the switch; it charges from the mains, when it is available and discharges (supplying power to the attached equipment) when the mains fails, and
  • Redundant Power Supply (RPS) provides a second power supply to the switch: it is connected between the mains and the switch and will provide power in the event that the UPS itself fails

An institution should determine the level of power protection it requires.  Complete coverage (of the entire network) is usually unnecessary as many of the devices attached to it will also fail: in the event of a power outage (for example, maintaining power to a port serving a desktop PC or laser printer is not useful if the device itself has lost power).  In this situation, it is sensible to have the network designed such that the critical equipment is placed on a subset of the network that has power protection.

Aside from the initial purchase cost of the power protection equipment itself, it takes up more room in the equipment rooms and incurs a recurrent cost to maintain the batteries.

Institutions are welcome to attach equipment supplied under the Managed Network Service to their own UPSs but should note that power issues are their responsibility, in the first instance.

Pricing for this service is on the charging page

UPSs

UPSs incur a sizeable recurrent charge due to the need to replace the batteries approximately every 3 years.  It is difficult to predict exactly when a battery will fail but, despite automatic testing an error reporting, it has been found these will fail in around this timescale and it is not useful to discover that a UPS battery has failed only when it is required.

Additional battery packs extend the runtime of the UPS (but not the maximum amount of power supplied).  The UIS will size the UPS (either 1000VA or 2200VA), based on the power consumption of the attached devices — typically this will be to around 60% of the maximum load supported by the UPS, as runtime drops disproportionally, above this level.

Note that PoP switches are no longer supplied with a UPS.  However, one can be supplied at the above costs (see the PoP switch page for more information on the type required).

RPSs

RPSs are provided to protect against a fault with the UPS or the power supply in the switch itself.  UPSs can fail for a number of reasons and, when they do fail, they tend to do so in a way which results in the power remaining off, even if the mains supply is available.  RPSs are generally recommended when power protection is desired, although they may be unnecessary if the UPS being installed is more comprehensive building-level installation, rather than a small model (as the former tend to feature better protection in the event of a fault with the UPS itself).

RPS equipment can vary, depending on the model of switch.  The above pricing is for the typical UIS-supplied edge switch and consists of an additional 1U device which can support up to two switches.  Some switches (in particular the PoP switches) can support two, redundant internal power supplies and do not need a separate, external unit.

Large infrastructure projects

The UIS regularly designs solutions for large infrastructure projects, such as new buildings or sites.

These bespoke solutions are priced on application only. They will include a design and consultancy fee.

Short lease option

We also provide an alternative short lease service for institutions requiring temporary network infrastructure. This option has no setup charges, but instead has an increased annual service charge.  It is a cost-effective solution for institutions in a temporary residence.

Reponsibilities

The UIS is responsible for:

  • Ensuring the right network is presented to the right device (i.e. VLAN, access, etc.). This may involve LLDP-MED, or dynamic VLAN assignment or manual reconfiguration.
  • Operating software upgrades.
  • Reconfiguration to support ongoing maintenance of the network (e.g. rate limiting, security, etc.).
  • Backing up of the configuration.
  • Monitoring to determine operational problems.
  • Diagnosis of faults with the equipment itself, subject to Local IT Support ascertaining that the problem is likely to be with the equipment and not with local cabling, attached devices, patching, power, etc.
  • Swapping or upgrading equipment in the event of faults or other operational difficulty.
  • Liaise with the local estates services in the event the equipment needs to be moved or protected, during works.

Local IT Support is required to:

  • Physically repatch ports to desired wallports.
  • Before escalating issues to the UIS, investigate them to a point where it is reasonable to accept that the network equipment is the most likely cause. For example, this may involve swapping patch cords, trying alternative devices and switch ports, etc.
    • The amount of investigative work may vary depending on the location of the fault, history of similar problems and the scale of affected users - for example, if a large number of users report a fault at a remote site and obvious things like the power are otherwise on, it is probably appropriate to assume a network fault.
  • Keep the wiring closet and equipment in a clean, generally tidy and organised state with labelled/colour-coded cables (for example, if a piece of equipment fails, it needs to be obvious to the UIS engineer what needs to reattach where and allow access to the equipment to swap it).
  • Provide and maintain supporting power supplies feeding the equipment.
  • Provide access arrangements compatible with the SLA (times, procedures, responsibility).
  • Maintain security of the wiring closets.
  • Ensure wiring cabinets are a suitable size, a workable location and installed to an acceptable standard.
  • Notify the UIS of any upcoming building works or similar which might affect the equipment or its location.

Last updated: 26th January 2021

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