ICON Lab move, VOIP phone logistics, Getting the new building connected

What’s keeping me busy this week?

  • Finalizing the Immersive Construction Lab (ICON Lab) move details
  • Transitioning phone service to VOIP in preparation to the move
  • Getting equipment ready for Comcast to connect the new building (Building 661)

Finalizing the Immersive Construction Lab (ICON Lab) move details

We had our second meeting yesterday with Christie Digital (http://www.christiedigital.com/en-us/pages/default.aspx) regarding the install.  The first meeting was a kick off meeting gathering details.  One of their techs also has come to visit the old and new site to take measurements and figure out egress from the old site (building 101) and ingress into the new site (building 661).  Main takeaways from this experience has been that all parties need to be flexible.  While Christie Digital has been finalizing placement of microphones, speakers, screens, rack, etc. in the new space, a few changes have come up that will require new conduit to be run, ducts to be moved, etc.  Our architect (http://www.kierantimberlake.com/) has been extremely responsive and easy to work with to make sure that all our needs can be met (within reason).  The main changes as we move will driven by the fact that the new space has very high ceilings, so we will not be ceiling mounting speakers, microphones, and videoconferencing cameras.

Transitioning phone service to VOIP in preparation to the move

This has definitely been an interesting project pulling together many things I already knew, but in an unexpected manner.  This project is primarily organized by central IT at the College of Engineering.

As we move into the new building, we will be transitioning from Verizon to VOIP (centrally managed and provided by Penn State Telecommunication and Networking Services – TNS).  There are two particular challenges we needed to overcome – porting the telephone numbers and minimizing interruptions.

The plan is:

  1. Provide new VOIP service in the old building
  2. Port the numbers before we move and disconnect the old analog phones
  3. Take the new phones when we move and they should “automagically” work.

Step 1 was the first big obstacles as our current space was not designed to provide enough data ports.  We are now running a secondary switch sitting under a desk in the cubicle area to be able to provide enough data connections for computers and phones.  Secondly, we had to prioritize what phones we would connect.  Instead of purchasing and running long wires all over the place, we decided that only the phones that are used by staff (instead of visiting researchers) would be connected.

Step 2 is a step of faith.  Since the porting process is completely out of our hands, our staff will have two phones on their desk during this time.  One day, the phones should start ringing in the VOIP phones and the old phones should be disconnected.  The timing of porting numbers is a mystery and we are taking this two phone approach to minimize any interruption of service.

Step 3 is only possible because our network infrastructure is inside Penn State’s network.  Building 101 and Building 661 will both be on fiber optic point-to-point connection back to University Park.  Basically, it’s like we’re all in one physical space and we’re just unplugging the phone from one room and plugging it into another port in the same network.

Voila!  We should have new phone service with the old numbers without any down time.

Getting equipment ready for Comcast to connect the new building

This is just another exercise in communication and patience.  Working with external contractors and vendors can be a challenge.  My only responsibility is that Comcast has everything they need to provide a connection in the new building.  For now, this includes a rack for them to install a modem and switch after the building is connected.

Comcast is responsible for running the conduit from the street into the building.  Then there are a number of different crews pulling cable, splicing, and installing equipment.  Again, I don’t have a big hand in the project other than trying to stay informed, so that we do not get into a situation where our move is delayed due to lack of connectivity.