SYSTEMS MANAGER ANNUAL REPORT 2014
The 2014 Calendar year was certainly another exciting time for LION. The major event was the addition of the Hamden Public Libraries this past summer. This proved to be the most challenging library I have ever had to bring up on LION but in the end it all worked out. However, the addition of Hamden was not the only thing that kept me busy. There were equipment upgrades and reconfiguring networks, a new service provider in Frontier, and countless other issues that needed attention. No two days are ever the same here at LION. Never a dull moment as they say. Below is a brief outline of some of the bigger projects I have worked on this past year.
I worked with the CEN as they updated their Fiber Switches from 100 Mbps to 1 Gigabit at the following locations, Wallingford, Meriden, New London, and Middletown. This provides improved performance and keeps the equipment up to date.
Two LION Libraries went ahead and installed Fiber on their own, upgrading from the CEN installed DSL. North Haven’s Town IT Tech did theirs while I worked with Norwich Public Utilities and Otis staff to get them up and running. Otis went live on the fiber July 24th, 2014 while North Haven came up on fiber toward the end of February 2014.
I modified the Cisco 877 routers at Orange and Ivoryton to incorporate their Public Internet connections into one network. Each Library has a single LAN network in their buildings which utilizes either Comcast or Cablevision for Internet and the CEN RLAN DSL connection for Sierra data traffic. This vastly improves Internet performance for both Public and Staff and improves Sierra performance as it no longer has to contend with Internet traffic. I hope to do the same for more of the libraries in 2015.
I worked with the CEN to upgrade East Lyme High Schools Libraries connection back to LION. We removed the CEN router and just use a port off the new CEN Fiber Switch. This removes a level of complexity that is no longer required. This makes for improved performance and simplifies troubleshooting.
Perhaps the biggest event for me and my fellow IT staff members has been the addition of Hamden Public Libraries. This was certainly a challenge for us due to the tight integration they have with their Town It department. We were able to use the CEN RLAN DSL connection and the Town IT Department was able to route the LION traffic over their network to the CEN router. The branches have just recently been upgraded to Fiber and everything is working as it should.
I have started cleaning up the wiring in the telecomm closets at some libraries. I replaced data cables with shorter wires, tied them up, and color coded them for staff and public. So far I have completed work at Madison, Otis, and Guilford. Besides the cleaner appearance, the libraries chose to upgrade some of their equipment. I installed new, faster Gigabit switches, replacing the older 100 Meg switches.
In 2014, I met with AT&T and Comcast sales representatives regarding pricing to upgrade the RLAN DSL at the secondary libraries that LION pays for. The thinking was that we could upgrade the RLAN DSL to Private Ethernet. RLAN technology dates back to the late 1990’s and is no longer sold as a service. Private Ethernet is the latest technology used for Point To Point connections. We discovered that it is cost prohibitive at this time but may be the only way to go if / when RLAN DSL is no longer supported.
AT&T sold their Connecticut holdings to Frontier. The transition took place on October 25th. We met with our Frontier Account Rep on November 10th. I asked him for pricing on Private Ethernet just to compare with AT&T and Comcast. I am still waiting for that information. While on the subject of Frontier, I recently discovered that their RLAN Support is not as good as AT&T’s was. With Frontier, if I need to report a problem with a libraries RLAN DSL, I need to open a ticket via phone or e-mail and they have 24 hours to look at the ticket and start working on it. With AT&T I called them and a live body answered and they would work it while you were on the phone with them. Not so with Frontier.
What this means for you is if your library has a problem with the RLAN and we need to open a ticket with Frontier, you could be down for at least 24 hours or longer while they test the line and dispatch someone to fix it. Please be patient since we have no control over this.
Guilford and Branford both decided the free Comcast Internet was not meeting their Internet needs so they both went ahead and upgraded to 50 Mbps Comcast Internet. They pay for this service on a monthly basis. Guilford did this in January 2014 and Branford went live on July 8th, 2014
I attended the CEN Membership Meeting on May 22, 2014 which was held for the first time at the Connecticut Convention Center. It was filled with Break Out Sessions regarding all forms of technology. I especially enjoy my face time with the CEN IT staff that I deal with on a regular basis. I find this Conference to be a valuable meeting to attend. I highly recommend sending someone from your library. The next Membership Meeting is May 15, 2015. I sent out the Invitation that I recently received to the board via e-mail.
I have begun getting ready for East Haddam Free Public Library to join LION. I made a site visit and checked out their telecommunications situation. Since they are already a CEN member, the transition should be fairly straight forward. I don’t anticipate any problems from a technology standpoint.
Of course there were always the new PC’s that needed to be installed, the PC’s that needed to be updated, the wireless routers, barcode scanners, printers, that needed fixing. This past year certainly had its share of challenges but that is what keeps it new and exciting day in and day out. I certainly look forward to the new adventures that await me in 2015.
Richard Widlansky, Systems Manager