Next Gen² Network End of Year Update, 2020

Aerial photo of UW–Madison above Bascom Hill with various colored light streaks representing network data and speed.

The Next Gen² Network (NG²N) discovery initiative is designed to create a business-relevant network strategy that will ensure the wired, wireless, wide area, and cloud-enterprise network on UW-Madison’s campus are responsive to our current and future instructional, research, business, and operational needs.

In our first phase, we documented the current state of the network and identified gaps that need attention in our quest to reduce complexity, increase uptime, improve agility, and reduce operational expenses within our network. As this phase comes to a close, we would like to update our stakeholders on our process and findings.

Process and Findings

Our engagement and discovery process was a three-part strategy, including:

  • In-person discovery
  • Technical deep-dive
  • Peer institution reviews

Nine in-person discovery sessions were held in various campus and virtual locations this Spring. Presentations were given on the current state of the network, the Cybersecurity ideal future state, and Interoperability, then facilitators hosted discussions on what it would take in terms of people, process, policy, and technology to move in the direction of a Zero Trust framework and identity-based access. Finally, the core project team conducted virtual or onsite interviews with five peer institutions using a set of questions covering network topology, management and operations, and engineering, design and deployment.

See a full executive summary of our findings and reflections resulting from these exercises as prepared by the project leadership team.

Next Steps

In our next phase, we will provide IT leaders with a three-year roadmap of projects and potential projects to advance toward a secure contemporary campus network for UW- Madison’s wired, wireless LAN (WLAN), wide area network (WAN) and cloud enterprise network. Projects will be proposed, chartered, and managed individually under a portfolio umbrella.

Current projects:

  • Defining and understanding how to engineer an overlay network as an integral part of the core router continuous improvement project.
  • Implementation of Globus research data management software, including placement of data transfer node(s) at appropriate locations around the campus network for fast, secure, reliable data transfer.

Discovery projects:

  • Exploration of the best solution for Outdoor wifi across the UW-Madison campus.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) onboarding, supporting and decommissioning along with policies and practices.

We appreciate your continued engagement with the Next Gen² Network initiative and look forward to the work ahead.