Recent Wi-Fi problems on campus were caused by a software bug that prevented equipment from properly balancing the demand for connections to the network. A software upgrade installed on Oct. 8 and 11, plus follow-up work on Oct. 18, has solved the problem.
The disruption began in late September. It interrupted teaching in some classes, dropped or delayed connections to eduroam in different parts of campus, and contributed to log-in and password problems.
“We recognize that this was a serious disruption,” said Michael Khan, associate chief information officer for Enterprise Infrastructure Services in Information and Educational Technology. “We are investigating the incident from start to finish, and are using what we’re learning to troubleshoot and improve our procedures.”
Software in wireless controllers helps spread the demand for connections from smartphones, laptops and other networked devices so that no one controller is overwhelmed by the volume. When the balance is off, customers can experience problems getting onto, or staying on, the network.
The IT Express Service Desk typically responds to an increase in Wi-Fi connection problems each fall as people new to campus learn how to connect their devices to the network. This seasonal pattern helped mask the problem at first. As details emerged, IET applied several mitigation measures and asked the vendor, Aruba, to help investigate. By Oct. 7, the vendor identified the software bug and recommended a code upgrade on the controllers. IET scheduled the work after normal business hours, to minimize the disruption caused by installing the upgrade.
The software had functioned without trouble since being installed in March. IET and the vendor are investigating why the bug appeared in September.
Other universities that use the same software also reported load-balancing issues. As at UC Davis, installing the code upgrades recommended by the vendor has addressed the problem.
Questions? Contact IT Express through its webpage or by phone, 530-754-HELP (4357).
This article appeared originally in TechNews.