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Center for Emerging Network Technologies, based in SU’s School of Information Studies, will address wireless communication technology issues and provide new research opportunities for students, faculty
Center for Emerging Network Technologies, based in SU’s School of Information Studies, will address wireless communication technology issues and provide new research opportunities for students, faculty February 16, 2001Judy Holmesjlholmes@syr.edu
While large and small telecommunications companies compete for access to the bandwidth needed to accommodate the explosion of wireless communications technologies entering the marketplace, consumers are left with the task of sorting out conflicting information about how to incorporate the technologies into places as diverse as homes, schools and corporations. The new Center for Emerging Network Technologies (CENT) in Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies is designed to provide answers to some of those questions, as well as provide faculty and students new opportunities to research, analyze and test cutting-edge technologies that are expected to play a significant role in organizations. Under the direction of faculty members David Molta and Junseok Hwang, the center will establish high-tech laboratory facilities that will be used by both Network Computing magazine and other industry partners and sponsors. The center will also house a new experiential learning laboratory for students. Network Computing, a publication of CMP Media of Manhasset, N.Y., established a real-world testing facility at SU in 1993 to evaluate network hardware and software. The partnership enabled SU faculty, staff and students to participate with Network Computing editors in some of the testing and analysis work. Molta, who has had both IT management and faculty positions at SU, has also worked in several capacities at Network Computing, most recently as editor in chief. The partnership with Network Computing will continue under the auspices of CENT. In addition, the center plans to partner with other organizations to provide similar, independent testing and analysis services, Molta says. “During the past seven years, we’ve tested thousands of products from hundreds of vendors and have developed the tools and techniques needed to do this in a systematic manner,” Molta says. “We’re trying to leverage that experience by providing our expertise and opening our testing facilities to a variety of partners.”
CENT has already forged an agreement with Doculabs, a Chicago-based consulting firm that analyzes e-business software and hardware for major corporations. Under the agreement, Doculabs will test the technology at SU. Undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Information Studies will set up the test-bed environments in the CENT laboratory and provide technical support for the vendors and Doculabs’ staff as they are running the tests. Currently, two graduate assistants and four undergraduate students are working on projects with CENT. Molta hopes to eventually have as many as 15 undergraduate students working on center projects. During the next 12 to 18 months, CENT plans to develop two test-bed environments. The first will consist of a minimum of 100 rack-mounted, Pentium-class client computers, 15 to 20 servers and a high-performance storage area network, all interconnected via fast Ethernet and gigabit Ethernet. This test bed will enable the lab to simulate a computer environment with more than 10,000 nodes. The second test bed will consist of a range of hardware and software that will be used to evaluate wireless network technologies. “We plan to focus on four areas of the wireless market,” Molta says. “Those areas are personal area wireless networks, which incorporate the emerging, low-cost Bluetooth radio technology that will eventually enable palm pilots, cell phones and other hand-held technology to share data with personal computers; wireless local area networks; fixed access wireless systems, including point-to-point links and point-to-multipoint links, designed to provide high-speed network connections of about 35 miles; and wide area wireless network systems, which hold the potential to revolutionize personal and business communications.” CENT will also be working with School of Information Studies faculty to incorporate the new experiential learning laboratory into course curricula to provide students with opportunities to gain practical, hands-on experience with state-of-the-art networking equipment. Hwang is overseeing the development of a series of laboratory modules for students, including modules for voice over IP and wireless local area networks. Additional modules will be developed as new key services and networking technologies emerge, Hwang says. The laboratory will open during the Fall 2001 semester. “The experiential learning lab will provide an environment for students to practice the implementation, use and management of today’s key networking technologies,” Hwang says. “We want our students to be strong in both theory and practice. The laboratory will bring key emerging networking technologies into our classrooms.”