IT NEXT technology infrastructure refresh project reaches completion

The University of Cincinnati's Digital Technology Solutions (DTS) recently completed the IT NEXT Network & Telephone Refresh Project. The multi-year capital infrastructure project replaced and upgraded critical components of the university’s wired and wireless networks and the telephone system.

“Technology infrastructure underpins the university—it’s foundational to the university’s operations and impact,” said Bharath Prabhakaran, UC vice president and chief digital officer. “The IT NEXT project replaced and upgraded that foundation while we were all standing on it.” 

​​​​​​​Technical and support staff from many DTS areas served on the multi-year project team. College and unit-level IT staff connected project reps with staff in their areas who helped coordinate and communicate the details to their colleagues before, during, and after each step in every phase of the project.

“The job required the replacement of more than a thousand network switches and thousands of wireless access points (APs) and phones in every university building,” said Matthew Williams, UC executive director of information security and deputy chief information security officer. “Success required all of us to work together. Every area of the university partnered with us during each phase of the project.”

Group photo of DTS staff

Technical and support staff from many DTS areas served on the multi-year project IT NEXT Network and Telephone Refresh Project. DTS field technicians and network engineers were among the first to return to campus after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the university into remote operations. They resumed regular project-related phone replacements during the summer of 2020. Additionally, they helped the Public Health Response Team stand up on-campus COVID testing centers and call centers to support the university’s response to the pandemic.  ​​​​​​​

IT NEXT Project Highlights

Four blocks stacked two by two representing the four phases of the IT NEXT project: 10 Wired Network Upgrade; 2) Wireless Network Upgrade; 3) Telephone System Upgrade; 4) Electrical Updates in Network Equipment Rooms

“The wired and wireless networks and phone system connect us to one another and UC to the world,” said Prabhakaran.

​​​​​​​“IT NEXT significantly improves UC’s technology infrastructure, which creates a strong and secure foundation for the university’s digital transformation and extends the impact of our ‘Next Lives Here’ strategic direction.” 

Phase 1) Wired Network Upgrade

  • Configured and installed more than 1,200 upgraded switches inside network equipment rooms in every university building. Network engineers and field technicians adjusted their work schedules to avoid interrupting network access during regular business hours. 

Phase 2) Wireless Network Upgrade

  • Configured and installed more than 5,000 upgraded wireless access points (APs) in university buildings. 

Phase 3) Telephone System Refresh

  • Upgraded the university’s phone system to an Internet-based Voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone and voicemail system that offers increased stability, ease-of-maintenance, and scalability. 
  • Network engineers and field technicians visited each workstation on every floor of each building to replace more than 8,000 phones and transfer phone lines to the new system.
  • Phase three also included upgrading more than 3,000 analog lines used by fax machines, credit card machines, and telephones in community spaces (e.g. Polycom and other phones in conference rooms; and courtesy phones located in kitchens, labs, lobbies, etc).

Phase 4) Electrical Updates in Network Equipment Rooms

  • The Office of the University Architect and P+D+C will continue to assess and complete any necessary renovations and electrical upgrades in network equipment rooms to accommodate the new equipment.

About Digital Technology Solutions

UC President Neville Pinto recently appointed Prabhakaran as the university’s vice president and chief digital officer and leader of Digital Technology Solutions (DTS) — a new organization that merged the talents and focus of two existing university units, Business Core Systems (BCS) and IT@UC.

DTS delivers and supports the central technology services that students, faculty, and staff depend on to teach, learn, and conduct university business. Working together, DTS will continue to build a strong foundation for the university’s digital transformation.

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