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Systems & Digital Technology
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This web page is maintained by: Berrie Watson.
Archive Edition: March 2005
Library Plans Computing Expansion Project
A large expansion project to enhance the Nelson Poynter Library's first floor computing area is slated for Summer of 2005. Sixteen additional student-use computers have been purchased to augment the library's 20 existing machines, to bring the total to 36 Dell Optiplex computers. The current NetID system will be used to access the computers, which will be built around Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows XP. Microsoft's Office 2003 will be the core group of applications, paired with Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player to access streaming content and Libraries of the USF System databases.
Beautiful matching furniture will be installed to integrate seamlessly with our current 'horseshoe' design. The additional computers will be located to the east and west outside edges of the configuration. A state of the art Category 6 network installation will be performed by inhouse systems personnel, capable of transmitting data at an astounding 10 Gigbits per second. With books in hand, computers within reach and service oriented staff nearby, our students will have the ultimate in college atmosphere and technology!
Library Network Firewall Protects Computing
Beginning in December of 2004, Nelson Poynter Library Systems implemented a firewall to protect staff computers, servers and the library network. What the building needed was a small firewall that worked well with Microsoft operating systems. Network appliances that are hardware based can be very effective and fast, but tend to cost upwards of 5 to 10 thousand dollars. Guided by Joe Rogers, USF Tampa’s Network Administrator, a Microsoft based firewall was deemed a better choice because it has adequate through-put (speed of data transmission), at a fraction of the cost of comparable hardware-based firewall appliances.
In late December the library staff held a meeting to discuss the impact and concepts of the firewall. An analogy for the library was made to a ship sailing the high seas. The staff play the part of sailors, looking out of the ship’s portholes into the sky. The binoculars, or glasses, were the applications that are used (such as Internet Explorer, for example) while the porthole is the firewall, and the sky is the great Internet. The firewall’s management of the network allows you to see the sky without exposing you to the ‘rain of hackers’ that try to get in.
The St. Petersburg library is the perfect size for such a firewall. Having less than 200 computers and 30 full-time staff, the smaller size of the system allows the systems coordinator to fine tune the firewall and be responsive to feedback concerning staff needs. The concept of the firewall is not to restrict users, but rather to enable the network to support their activities while limiting access from the outside. After the firewall was implemented with a limited set of general rules to allow all standard applications to function, it was then expanded to allow exceptions to support library favorites like NOTIS, Aleph training simulations, and others. The firewall was then readjusted until the effects of the firewall were no longer felt.
The firewall has split the library network into three main groups; staff computers and servers that are fully protected, web and email relay servers that need to be accessed from outside of USF, and the public area computers. Network Administrators categorize it as a ‘tri-homed network with a perimeter’. Computers and servers are treated differently depending on where in the network they are placed.
The addition of the library firewall not only enhanced security, but among additional benefits of the system were better statistics of the network, special error alerts, and general information of the status of the network. Such reports have pinpointed problems within the network that has enabled the library to fine-tune its operations, spotting potential problems before users experience slow-downs or failures. In the end, it allows staff access to everything they need, while thwarting the hackers, script kiddies and cruising losers.
Library Joins Forces with USF Tampa to Provide Access to Services
The library computing infrastructure will link to Tampa IT group in the Spring of 2005 in order to allow access to the eUSF portal. This link will provide an easier method for library staff to access University services such as GEMS and Fast, through a single portal. Eventually other services will be added, including access to OASIS, Exchange Email, and even local weather information. Another benefit of this new connection for our library will be the publication of all nelson email addresses throughout the USF community. Our addresses will be available to the wider community through the USF email directory, as well as a listing in the Global Address List through Tampa's Exchange email system. For more information on the eUSF portal, visit the eUSF portal help page.