On-going K Spa IT Issues


User Impact

User’s would experience intermittent connectivity issues linked to eduroam which were first logged with Mircosoft in September last year.  Very few support calls were logged against this issue and most of it was word of mouth leaving us with the escalation you gave and a lot of anecdotal issues discussed in passing with the staff. During this period there were a number of days where by clusters of machines would not connect at all and that would fluctuate linked into the feedback we received. This impacted the following areas staff meetings and productivity (being unable to send/receive emails etc). Student access to online resources or email etc. The mentality as this dragged on was a frustrated acceptance that Wi-Fi access was unreliable, and worked around it.

Resolution details for the 2 identified issues within eduroam

  1. Local Wi-Fi authentication issues  - 1 of the 3 servers enabling access to the Wi-Fi on the Kspa environment was found to be causing multiple failures across the entire campus. This should have then passed that request to one of the other 2 servers but it didn’t. After a lengthy investigation with our supplier we identified the server with the resolution to remove it from the environment.  
  2. Issue 2 was also a hardware issue linked to our eduroam’s National gateway server between our internal network and the internet. There are 3 servers that deal with the load from the user base. 1 of which had been highlighted as requiring replacement due to its age. By chance as part of planned maintenance last week we shut down the server. At which point the team realised that there was a great improvement to service to all institutions, and as a result took the action not to bring the server back online until it is replaced.

Ongoing actions

We have been monitoring the requests via the local network provider though to our external connection and are now seeing very few failures, the failures that we are seeing are due to issues with the user’s devices and not the Exeter IT network.

Additionally we will be sending a 3rd party to site to carry out a Wi-Fi survey to establish id the local network set up is fit for purpose and will feedback the results and recommendations. In addition to sending out communications to all those known to us at this time with feedback being collated by FX Plus.

The complexity of both issues combined muddied the water as the issues did not manifest themselves in the same way translating into a long drawn out support effort. As well as the issues raised were few and far between. 


Lecture Video Conferencing 

User Impact –

Exeter IT are aware of ongoing difficulties around Lecture Video Conference sessions to K Spa. Whilst the majority of teaching sessions have not been impacted, we are aware that others have and we have been working on several recommended ways forward.

Resolution details

Option 1 - Full refresh – Minimum 4 weeks to complete without issues

This will require extended time to implement (approximately 4 weeks installation time for a full AV refresh).  We have removed the partial refresh element from our initial action plan given this would take a similar time frame as a full refresh as we would need to take down the entire infrastructure to carry out the upgrades to specific elements (i.e. console or cabling etc). 

Option 2 - Review external contractor options to upgrade existing conferencing standards - TBC

Requires detailed engagement with our existing external contractor – Electrosonic.  This is to ensure that we do not void our contract by altering equipment that is maintained and supported by them. This is the preferred option. As stated earlier in this mail. They will be onsite tomorrow to carry out investigatory work as well as reviewing the setup. 

Option 3 - Install video conferencing standards without supplier input or support – Additional risk and least favourable option due to this negating our support contract. 

Would effectively void our contract with ElectroSonic and expose the service to high levels of risk. There would be an increased and unplanned load placed upon all support teams and no guarantee of consistent service can be confidently maintained.

Ongoing actions

The next steps are:

  • Continue discussions with Electrosonic offering/requesting options to ensure video conferencing functionality is revised and stable
  • Collaborate with academic staff to ensure that, where appropriate, bookings are moved to an equivalently functional room (RILD alternatives may be available however KSpa alternatives with video conferencing may not be available)
  • Build timeline for optional upgrade windows (Winter/Easter 2017/18)  
  • Customer statement to be released apologising for issues and highlighting actions being taken to ensure the service is continued