Jan 26 2015

Network Upgrades Help Oregon Agencies Maintain Productivity

As the economy recovers, state and local governments are making much-needed investments in switches.

From the police department to forestry to transportation, just about every agency in the state of Oregon depends heavily on network connectivity to fulfill its mission.

Oregon’s IT staff recently conducted a study that found that 70 percent of the edge devices on the state network were more than 5 years old, says Marshall Wells, sustainability program manager for the state’s Enterprise Technology Services division. Few could deny that Oregon needed to overhaul its equipment, so the state legislature authorized the IT staff to replace nearly 3,000 edge devices at 650 locations statewide.

“During the downturn a few years ago, the budget for lifecycle replacement was cut,” says Wells. “But we had our customer utility board lobby the legislature about the need for upgraded equipment, and it was agreed that the state would make the investment.”


The percentage of enterprise organizations reporting that their network and architecture teams primarily influence or control decisions about network infrastructure purchases

SOURCE: IDC, “SDN Survey: Big Changes for Datacenter Networking Operations and Personnel,” June 2014

The procurement phase wrapped up in late December, and deployment of 3,000 edge devices will begin in March. Oregon chose a mix of Cisco Systems Catalyst 2960 switches, Cisco 2921 and 1941 routers, and Cisco Catalyst 6700 devices. The 2960 devices provide Layer 2 switching, while the 2921 and 1941 router models link state networks to outside networks. Oregon plans to use the 6700 switches for high-density deployments in large buildings.

Along with the edge devices, Wells says the state plans to deploy six large Nexus switches in the main data center as well. “We’ve also deployed Cisco Prime management software, which offers us a lot more information on the health of the network,” he says.

Brad Casemore, research director for data center networks for IDC, says enhancing the network was an important step for Oregon. “IT organizations have reached a point where they realize that traditional network architectures and operational models are inefficient and will not scale,” he says. “Today, network upgrades are not just about more bandwidth, but also about gaining operational agility and efficiency.”

Dollars and Cents Drive Network Upgrades

Jeff Massey, IT services director for the city of Elgin, Ill., says cost savings spurred the city’s upgrade to Extreme Networks equipment a few years ago.

“With our old equipment, we had a lot of 12-port and 24-port edge switches, but with Extreme, we were able to run 24-port and several 48-port switches,” Massey explains. “We reduced our total switch count by about 15.” The move saved the city roughly $150,000 right off the top.

Massey upgraded the city’s backbone by deploying five Extreme Networks Summit X650 Series core switches, and rolled out roughly 50 Summit X480 edge switches in wiring closets across 28 city buildings. The Summit X650 switches perform both Layer 2 switching and Layer 3 routing, while the X480 devices are only Layer 2 switches. In addition to saving money by purchasing fewer switches, the upgrade reduced maintenance costs by about $15,000 per year.

Massey adds that the backbone affords Elgin numerous opportunities for the staff to run mobile devices and use more video applications and video conferencing. “In terms of performance, the Extreme equipment lets us do whatever we need to keep the staff productive at a more reasonable cost,” he says.

Massey says Extreme’s SummitStack technology allows the city to run five core switches across the campus, while managing them as a single logical unit in software with one IP address. “This technology gave us redundancy and more efficient management at the core that we didn’t have in the past,” says Massey.

For added redundancy, each X480 switch is connected to at least two core X650 switches. “So, if one link goes down, there’s at least one other connection. This kind of fault tolerance is a major benefit for us,” Massey concludes.


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