Network Architecture and Support

Service Owner: Fred Williams

NIU’s Division of Information Technology (DoIT) provides data network connectivity to NIU students, faculty and staff, and customers throughout northern Illinois. With connections to both the global Internet and the high-speed academic and research community on Internet2, NIU offers a robust network management service that includes:

  • Wired 100Mbps connections to all buildings except the Holmes Student Center which is scheduled for renovation; 1Gbps connections to select departments including Athletics; and 10Gbps speed in NIU’s data centers.
  • Wireless coverage for authenticated (NIUWireless) and unauthenticated (NIUGuest) users via 802.11n.

All campus network connections aggregate to central core routers that provide fault-tolerance and redundancy via Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol (VRRP). Using Cisco’s network gear and leveraging both their security and Data Center suite using protocols like FabricPath, NIU has a scalable network that is suitable for large virtualization deployments, high-performance computing applications, and private clouds.

NIU’s network service is actively monitored 7/24/365 with PRTG Network Monitor for up/down status and historical data; Cisco Prime Infrastructure; and OneControl for Ciena gear.

Basic features of the network architecture and support service include:

  • Address assignments with DHCP or static addressing (for demonstrated need) via multicast DHCP (MDHCP), both managed and monitored with VitalQIP.
  • Domain names under
  • DNS (Domain Name Service) for hostname translation.
  • Multicast (one-to-many) communication for imaging applications, music applications, emergency text notifications and more.
  • NAT (Network Address Translation) mapping to remove publicly-exposed IP addresses thereby creating a more secure network while efficiently managing scarce IP addresses.
  • VPN (Virtual Private Network) authenticated and secure access to campus resources at

DoIT provides options for installation, maintenance and refresh of camera systems, including IP devices and analog cameras.

  • Option 1: full maintenance of a current system, including Help Desk, Break/Fix, Dispatch Support, NVR/Application maintenance and Account setup/support.
  • Option 2: full maintenance of a current system, including Help Desk, Break/Fix, Dispatch Support, NVR/Application maintenance, Account setup/support AND Camera/NVR new/refresh/replace.

Off-Campus Customers

DoIT provides ISP services to external customers throughout northern Illinois on NIUNet. With a fiber optic network through the western Chicago suburbs and northern Illinois, NIUNet serves non-profit community anchor institutions like schools and government entities.

The Division also provides transport services to iFiber (Illinois Fiber Resources Group) and data customers including the Illinois Rural HealthNet (IRHN) and the Illinois Municipal Broadband Communications Association (IMBCA). Using Ciena network gear, the fiber ring provides redundancy to the distribution layer and one fiber to the institutional customer itself.

The NIU Broadband Development Group provides connectivity solutions to clients and partners in Illinois. Connectivity via a shared high bandwidth infrastructure has become essential for the efficiency of nearly all of today’s business, non-profit, government and healthcare initiatives. Broadband development and the success of economic development initiatives are increasingly entwined.

The projects include:

  • Chicago Southland Fiber Network: a “Jobs First” Illinois funded grant to develop an independent organization to build, maintain and operate a high speed fiber optic network for over 40 community anchors in the Chicago Southland municipalities.
  • DeKalb Advancement of Technology Authority: a partnership between the DeKalb County Government, NIU and private business to build, maintain and operate a fiber optic network throughout DeKalb County for over 70 community anchor institutions.
  • Illinois Rural HealthNet: The development of a not-for-profit corporation from an FCC funded grant to implement a statewide fiber optic network for over 70 healthcare facilities.
  • iFiber: a private not-for-profit corporation created by NIU to build, operate and maintain a 900-mile fiber optic network in a 9 county region west of Chicago serving over 500 community anchor institutions.
  • McHenry County Network Consortium: an organization created to implement a McHenry County-wide network on time and within budget.
  • Winnebago County Geographic Information System: an example of an NIU partnership with the City of Rockford to develop a network to run GIS systems between regional governmental entities.


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