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D-Link Switches Help Make Virtual Computing Labs a Reality for George Mason University


FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif.- Located in the heart of Northern Virginia’s technology corridor near Washington, D.C., George Mason University prepares its students to succeed in the work force with strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

As an innovative, entrepreneurial institution, George Mason University sought to implement a high-performance academic computing infrastructure to better manage its computer labs and classrooms across four campuses.

To support these goals, a sound and secure, high-performance network infrastructure was critical. School administrators decided to establish gigabit Ethernet connectivity to each lab and classroom computer, joining them to a dedicated 10-gigabit backbone. In addition, an inexpensive stacking solution was required to provide network redundancy in a highly distributed fashion.

“We wanted to be able to support learning needs in our classrooms and labs in a proactive, highly responsive way. IT should serve learning - not act as a barrier,” said Sharon Pitt, executive director of the division of Instructional Technology at Mason. “These improvements within our computing facilities will ensure that technology improves opportunities for learning.”

The university opted for a combination of D-Link® DGS 3400 and 3600 series network switches for its academic labs initiative. The solution not only provided the needed stacking and redundancy capabilities, but also offered economical 10-gigabit capacity.

“This new high-speed network allows us to completely automate the distribution of computer software and introduce virtualization technologies within our academic facilities. All of this will provide improved access to computing resources for our faculty and students,” said John Savage, director of advanced academic computing at Mason.

Another key benefit to these newly re-designed computer labs is the ability for students to access virtual systems, configured with their choice of software and operating system, on demand. The university will be able to meter software use and thus match tools and resources it needs. It will also be possible for different software packages, as well as entire operating systems, to be made available within specific labs or classrooms automatically, according to a set schedule, maximizing the usefulness of vital but limited resources.

“The D-Link switches have no problem in moving large volumes of data from point to point, without any noticeable performance degradation,” said Savage. “Without the ability to routinely move terabytes of data throughout the classrooms and labs, our ability to meet future goals for academic computing would have been seriously impaired. Now, however, many important initiatives are proceeding in record time. Our responsiveness to faculty and students in providing a variety of services has improved dramatically.”


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