One of the core services offered by the University of Nairobi’s ICT Centre is Network infrastructure and communication. In today’s digital world, a perfect support system is very important for the management and functioning of any organization. A good networking system enhances proper communication and productivity within all arms of an organization. Therefore, the importance of an efficient networking system cannot go unnoticed.
Headed by Mr. Elija Tenai, deputy director, the Network infrastructure section has been very efficient in developing and maintaining the entire university’s network infrastructure. Currently, the coverage of network infrastructure within the university campuses is quite remarkable and there are ongoing plans to make it even better.
There are very many responsibilities that are assigned to the network infrastructure section. However, they can be summed up to five key areas including: Network infrastructure, Internet and email services, database administration, Integrated Communication Services as well as information security. At the same time, the section is also charged with the responsibility of managing data centre services.
“Backbone infrastructure is the pillar of world class ICT services.” says JoramKinuthia,an ICT security officer at the section. He adds that the presence of fibre networks across campuses has enabled students, lecturers and other staff members to take advantage of the easily accessible ICT services.
Internet and Email Services
The availability of fast internet speed and corporate emails for students and staff makes Florence Mwangi another ICT officer very proud. “The internet provides a lot of resources for our students and staff thus enhancing learning, teaching and research.” Florence is also happy because she is able to communicate with friends and colleagues via the university’s email. The intranet tool is also a unique feature that makes the university’s network services stand out. Designed for university employees, the intranet has helped staff to share projects and download important documents from the website.
By using high quality software, the network department has managed to completely transform the operations of the human resources department at the university. Employee details for instance are well secured in a computerized database unlike in the past when the details were only kept in physical files.
Integrated Communication Services
Apart from the above functions, the department has also integrated crucial services in a bid to enhance communication within the university. The integrated services include VoIP as well as data messaging services. VoIP in particular has been very important in promoting clear and high quality telephone services within the university. Data messaging services have enabled staff and students to find solutions to their problems by simply sending messages from their mobile phones.
The data Centre facility at the ICT Centre has guaranteed the security of all kinds of information in the university’s database. The departmentobserves the set ICT security policies to take care of information in its domain. The available back up facilities notably helps to promote the safety of information. This has tremendously reduced chances of security breaches such as hacking of websites by malicious elements.
Milestones and Future Plans
Among other achievements, Mr. Tenai cites the increased internet bandwidth capacity as one of the major developments by his section. “With an upgraded bandwidth of 430Mbps during peak hours and 600Mbps during off peak, our staff, students and clients are best placed to access high quality research materials, news and entertainment.”
The deputy director also says that the spread of Wide Area Network (WAN) in almost all the campuses and schools is a remarkable achievement. On top of this, the section has rolled up Wi Fi at the Main campus, Students Welfare Authority (SWA) offices including hostels, kikuyu campus, Chiromo campus, Kenya Science campus and at the school of business in Lower Kabete campus. At the same time, Wi Fi services are just about to be commissioned at the Kenyatta National Hospital Campus (KNH) following the successful conclusion of the Wi Fi set-up project. Upcoming projects will see the school of law in parklands campus, College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences campus (CAVS) and the dental school gain access to the Wi Fi too. The Wi Fi network will also be extended to Kisumu and Mombasa campuses as well as all extramural centres across the country.
With the help of university management, the Network infrastructure section plans to revamp VoIP access infrastructure and increase telephone handsets. The new technology with an efficient billing system will see the university cut a lot of communication costs. Apart from that, there are plans to modernize the data Centre. “We intent to upscale our data centre into a state- of –the- art computing technology by consolidating servers and embracing virtualization.” says Mr. Tenei. To achieve this goal the section will invest in automated firefighting equipment as well as improved cooling facilities at the data centre. Theinvestment in the data centre will lead to a more efficient and improved cooling system and automated firefighting equipment.
As Bill Gates once said, “We are changing the world with technology.” The network infrastructure department is absolutely determined to make the University of Nairobi, a digital community. It will be an awesome experience. The way we learn, work, teach and research will never be the same again.
Deputy Director, NIS