Service Level Agreement for Network Service

 

1 – Introduction and Model of Operation

Communication Technologies (ComTech) is the network service provider for the NC State University community. These services include connectivity and switching as well as advanced network systems and management functions. Operationally, ComTech designs, implements, and maintains NCSU data communication networks.

This document outlines the network services offered by ComTech on behalf of the NC State University community. Further, this document specifies ComTech service level commitments as applied to network performance and support for all Network and OIT Desktop and Application Support customers.

 

Data Networking

  • The NC State University network (NCState.Net) provides for computer communications between campus end systems. Additionally, NCState.Net provides gateway access to campus resources from remote sites and provides access to the Internet and advanced research network access.

Net Back BoneFigure 1. Data Network Model

 

  • ComTech installs and manages campus network devices including desktop switches, building aggregation switches, server aggregation switches, backbone switches, and gateways.

About this Document

  • This agreement is intended to document procedures for support of campus data networking services, and to get service level expectations for these services. This document is reviewed annually and approved by the Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance and Information Systems and the Vice Provost for Information Technology.

2 – Network Services

ComTech provides campus data network services to college, departmental, and central administration IT groups – these IT groups serve as the customers of record. The ComTech data service provides for network connectivity from the desktop switch or server aggregation switch. Inside wiring between the end system and the ComTech electronics is installed and maintained by the installation and maintenance group within ComTech.

  • ComTech network connectivity includes:
    • Switched Ethernet LAN access
    • Campus data transport including
      • IP bearer service
      • IP multicast
    • Remote access through public network infrastructure (e.g., T1, DS3, Broadband Cable, DSL)
    • Internet gateway service
      • Commodity Internet
      • Advanced research networks (e.g., vBNS, Abilene)
    • Address registration and name services
    • Firewall Services
    • Wireless Service

Switched Ethernet LAN Access

Ethernet LAN access is offered in all campus buildings that are connected to the campus fiber backbone and wired according to the campus standard wiring plan. LAN access provides for physical connectivity of end systems to the campus data network via standard Ethernet (10 Mbps), Fast Ethernet (100 Mbps), and Gigabit Ethernet (1000 Mbps) network switches (where end systems include desktop systems, servers, printers, and the like).

Campus Data Transport

The NCState.Net backbone provides a logical overlay network in support of the open Internet Protocole (IP) version-4 bearer service.

Remote Access

ComTech provides for remote access to campus resources through public network gateways. Remote access services include remote dial facilities (i.e., ISDN BRI) and point-to-point provider-based facilities including DS1 and DS3 clear channel connections, broadband cable and DSL. ComTech works with public network providers to implement and maintain network connections between off-campus NCSU facilities and the NCState.Net backbone. The public network service provider is responsible for the leased line between the remote site and the NCSU campus proper. ComTech provides and supports the network electronics and addressing on both the NCSU campus and remote sides of the leased line connection.

Internet Gateway

ComTech maintains an external gateway connection to the commodity Internet and advanced research networks via the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN) and the North Carolina Networking Initiative (NCNI) GigaPop.

Host Registration and Naming

ComTech administers domain name servers in support of IP host address to name resolution. These servers support unity database information, off campus resolution requests and campus resolution requests.

Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) provides an automated mechanism for assigning IP host addresses. ComTech supports static DHCP assignment for any end system attached to the NCState.Net backbone. LAN Administrators must first register the end system address for DHCP hosts. All residence hall hosts receive IP addresses dynamically using ComTech-supported DHCP

Firewall Services

ComTech offers redundant managed firewall services to isolate and protect critical network hosts to the campus community. Please call the Network Operations Center ( NOC ) at 513-9675 to set up an appointment to discuss your firewall needs.

Wireless Service

Wireless access is offered in various locations across campus. The ComTech wireless network implementation is part of a campus-wide Nomad Computing Environment. The Nomad Computing Environment uses Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) to provide ubiquitous and seamless mobile computing resources. The NC State wireless network infrastructure allows portable computing devices with wireless network interfaces to connect to the NC State network using IEEE 802.11a (some classrooms only), b and g compliant technology.

Conditions and Expectations

ComTech provides the services mentioned here with service level guarantees described in the remaining sections of this document. We are able to provide service level guarantees within NCState.Net supported infrastructure. ComTech does not guarantee support or service level for the following:

  • Legacy equipment and technologies – ThinNet (Ethernet 10base2)
  • Internet access beyond the NCSU gateway
  • Internet performance
  • Any network device not maintained solely by ComTech
3 – Network Performance

Network performance is specified in terms of reliability and responsiveness. Network reliability is measured in terms of network availability or uptime. Network responsiveness is measured in terms of response time and throughput.

 

Reliability

  • ComTech implements advanced network architectures according to industry standards. Generally speaking, network availability is directly related to the amount of redundancy in the system. This redundancy is realized in duplicated network links and equipment. ComTech includes the following in the NCState.Net backbone architecture to increase availability and minimize downtime.
    • Redundant backbone switching equipment
    • Redundant links in the backbone
    • Alternate paths in the backbone
    • Dual power sources in the backbone (e.g., campus power and diesel generator)
    • Onsite spares for all equipment used in the campus infrastructure
    • Maintenance contracts on network equipment
    • Redundant Internet Gateways
    • Alternate Internet gateway paths
    • UPS’s in all campus telecommunications closets
  • ComTech monitors the availability of all backbone interfaces (i.e., buildings). ComTech agrees to provide an end-to-end data service that provides annual availability of 99.5% (less than 43.8 hours of downtime).
  • Network availability measurements will be compiled using a combination of remedy system and network management system reporting functions

Network Responsiveness

  • The NCState.Net backbone is based on a non-blocking architecture with links sized to minimize delay and maximize throughput at peak load. ComTech continuously monitors network performance and applies equipment and link upgrades to maintain optimal delay and throughput characteristics. ComTech monitors the performance of:
    • Backbone switches
    • Internet gateways
    • Remote gateways
    • Building backbone links
    • Backbone links (between backbone switches)
  • ComTech agrees to provide non-blocking (i.e., line-rate transport free from network congestion) backbone network performance.
4 – Network Support

ComTech provides support for all services listed in section 2. ComTech relies on departmental LAN administrators to support local connectivity issues – that is, the interface between the user system and the desktop switching equipment. College and departmental primary LAN administrators will be full or part time “permanent year round” employees of North Carolina State University. There should be at least one alternate LAN administrator meeting the above criteria to fill in for the primary in the event the primary is not available. Part time “temporary” personnel including students may be used to assist in the administration of LAN’s.

LAN Administrator responsibilities include:

 

  • Requesting data patching via the E-form located at https://comtechapp.oit.ncsu.edu/webapp/.
    • ComTech will do data patching of the closet end for all types of cable.
    • Three working days is a normal turnaround time for routine activations. Most are done within a day. Normal activations are 8 hours to 3 days.
    • Two closet patching cables are located in each closet for emergency activations where ComTech’s normal turnaround isn’t soon enough.
    • If an emergency cable is used from the closet, the LAN administrator must submit a request via the E-form by the next working day to ComTech to have the temporary cable removed and the permanent cable installed.
    • If an emergency activation (requested within 8 hours) must be performed by ComTech, then a charge of time and 1/2 tech labor charges will be billed. Please call the Network Operations at 513-9675 or e-mail support@ncstate.net for current rates.
  • Insuring hosts connecting to LAN are configured properly so as not to interfere with existing network services.
  • Registering end systems in the host registration database.
  • Level 1 support – that is, initial investigation of user problems; determine whether the problem is user error, application/PC malfunction, or apparent network problem.
  • Reporting network problems to ComTech as appropriate
  • Assist ComTech in determining additional network needs
  • Reporting conditions that could impact network services within the LAN

 

Network Trouble

  • ComTech employs a 24-hour a day, 7 days per week, 365 per year pager rotation schedule – that is, ComTech staff responds to network outages at any time without exception. Problems shall always be reported by opening a Remedy call and assigning it to ComTech or by sending Email to support@ncstate.net(An Email to this address automatically opens a Remedy call.) In addition, urgent problems may be reported by phoning the network manager or the network operations desk directly (see appendix A). Trouble reports shall be reported by LAN administrators and shall include at a minimum the following information:
    • Contact information
    • Description of problem
    • Location of problem – campus, building, floor, room
    • Relevant network addresses (i.e., IP and MAC addresses)
  • A ComTech staff member will acknowledge a problem reported via the remedy system (or trouble alias) within two hours of its posting – by contacting the reporting LAN administrator. A ComTech staff member will acknowledge a page from the network manager or the operations desk within 30 minutes of receipt. ComTech will respond with problem resolution using the Remedy system and assign calls back to the customer for the closure of the original call.
  • ComTech continuously monitors the campus network for outages, sub-optimal performance, and service degradation. Upon detection of a network outage, ComTech will alert customers via a Network Activity Alert Email message. Periodic updates will be issued as new information is available. A final Network Activity Alert will be sent when service has been restored. If the outage affects critical devices or services, then emergency contact procedures will be enacted. ComTech archives backbone equipment logs and Network Activity Alert messages for future review and problem determination.
  1. Network Abuse
    • Network abuse is a use of the network by an end system that either interferes with normal network operation or is otherwise in violation of NCSU network acceptable use policy (AUP). Violations of the AUP include network denial of service (DOS) attacks, unauthorized port scanning, and attempts to gain unauthorized access to network hosts (This is not an exhaustive list). Reports of network abuse should be sent to abuse@ncstate.net. Abuse reports should contain contact information, the IP or end system address of the offending host, and a log showing evidence of the reported abuse.
    • Upon notification of abuse, ComTech will apply a network filter for the reported host, acknowledge the complaint, and notify the LAN administrator of the offending host. The LAN administrator is responsible for correcting the host and requesting that the filter be disabled.
    • ComTech maintains network configurations in accordance with industry-defined “best practices.” Specifically, ComTech configurations include safeguards against the use of the NC State network as an amplification site for denial of service (DOS) attacks.
  2. Requesting New Services
    • Customers may request new services and service upgrades at any time by sending Email to support@ncstate.net indicating the requested services, contact information, and the desired completion date. In general, requests are processed on a first-come-first-served basis. ComTech maintains a small inventory of commodity equipment (generally desktop switching gear) to meet normal workflow requirements. In general, equipment requests will require that ComTech order equipment and supplies before scheduling installation.
    • A ComTech staff member will acknowledge a service request within 48 hours of its posting to the remedy system (or support Email alias). ComTech will complete service requests on a first -come-first-served basis.
  3. Registering IP Host Addresses and Names
    • LAN Administrators may register end systems by either sending a request via e-mail to support@ncstate.net or request training to use the IP registration management client. After being certified by ComTech staff, LAN administrators will be granted access to add, change, and delete host information for zones (subnets) assigned to their department or group.
    • DNS updates are executed during normal business hours only at 7 am, 10 am, 1 pm, and 4 PM DHCP updates are executed hourly 7 am – 8 PM, Monday-Friday.
  4. Network Maintenance
    • The NC State University network is dynamic in nature, changing every day. On a daily basis, nodes are added to the network, customers (and their subnets) move, and equipment is upgraded. While this change is a requirement, we plan, announce, and execute network maintenance to affect as few customers as possible and with minimal downtime. We categorize network changes as follows:
      • Installation: customer initiated for adds, moves, and changes
      • Maintenance: ComTech initiated for bug fixes, feature enhancements, maintaining network homogeneity
      • Emergency: ComTech initiated for fixing network problems that involve serious network performance and/or availability degradation The regularly scheduled maintenance period for campus network services is 12 am to 6 am, and all maintenance is coordinated with impacted customers prior to initiation. No maintenance affecting these services will be conducted without prior coordination with impacted customers. Routine maintenance will be announced at least 72 hours in advance.
    • All network maintenance will be announced via E-mail and will include the action, the reason for action, the planned start, the projected completion time, and affected customers. Network maintenance alerts are emailed to netadm and netinfo lists (These lists include LAN administrators and other Faculty/Staff/Students who wish to be notified of planned maintenance). Network systems will become available with greater or equal service within the time window defined in the maintenance announcement.
  5. Customer Satisfaction
    • Customers dissatisfied with their level of service should immediately report any issues to the network manager and schedule a face-to-face meeting. Issues unresolved with the network operations manager should be escalated as necessary.
    • Customer feedback will ensure that we continue to deliver services required by our customers and at a level expected by our customers. The ComTech Director hosts periodic (at least semi-annually) update meetings to inform customers of network architecture plans and developments – these meetings also serve as a forum for customer feedback.
5 – Monitoring and Reporting Functions

In order to measure conformance with the service levels defined in this document, we rely on several tools – namely, the Remedy system, off the shelf network management systems, and ComTech-developed web-based tools. The Remedy system is to be used by LAN administrators and ComTech staff to track and document network troubles. Remedy reporting functions may be used to generate reports that indicate persistent problem areas in the network itself or network service processes. Network management tools are generally used by ComTech staff to monitor network availability and performance. ComTech has deployed a number of off-the-shelf network management tools to expedite problem isolation and resolution. Finally, ComTech provides tools through the ComTech web space that serve as the customer window into the network – existing tools include:

  • http://net00nm.comtech.ncsu.edu/ – monitors all backbone connections for interface operational status and logs apparent network outages; updated every 2 minutes.
  • http://mrtg.ncstate.net/ – provides network throughput and latency baseline graphs between campus hub (MDF) locations; updated every 5 minutes.

In addition to these ComTech links, the following pages provide indications of Internet gateway performance (ComTech does not provide any service level guarantees for Internet access).

  • skippy.ncren.net – MRTG statistics for all NCREN sites and Internet provider interfaces.
  • watt.nlanr.net – response-time measurements to roughly 100 university sites around the country (from ComTech backbone)

Several additional tools are under development including:

  • HP Openview web-based monitoring solution – This gives customer help desks a real-time view of network status through a Java-enabled graphical interface. Ultimately this tool will replace the existing text-based network monitor page.
  • User Customizable ComTech portal – This allows customers to customize their view of the network by configuring a portal URL.

Appendix A – Contact Information and Approvals

To report a network down emergency or network outage, a LAN Administrator may call the Network Operations Center (NOC) during normal business hours of 7:15 am – 6:00 pm, Monday – Friday. After normal business hours, a LAN Administrator may call ITD Operations and the ITD operators will page the ComTech on-call staff member. The on-call staff member will involve other staff as necessary.

 

Contact E-mail Telephone
ComTech Network Operations Center support@ncstate.net 513-9675
ITD Operations support@ncstate.net 515-5500
Greg Sparks, Director gwsparks@ncsu.edu 515-0105
Greg James, Network Manager gajames@ncstate.net 515-0122

 

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