The development of HKUST's networked computing environment has been extremely rapid - perhaps the world's fastest. It grew from zero to over 6,000 network nodes in just a few short years. Today, almost all University computers and workstations are connected to the network. Faculty, students, and administrative staff have access to a vast array of information and computing resources including:
There are now around 7,500 desktop computers connected to the campus network. Three main types are:
Intel Processor-based Personal Computers (PC's): There are around 6,000 networked PC's, with an estimate of 2,500 located in the student halls. All newly purchased office PCs are standardized on Pentium III models.
Macintoshes (Mac's): Around 600 Mac or PowerMac computers.
Unix Workstations: Around 1,000 Unix workstations, with over 85% being Sun workstations, and the rest mainly HP and SGI workstations.
Every faculty member has a desktop
computer. Administrative staff also make heavy use of desktops
for their day-to-day administrative tasks.
In addition, faculty, students and staff can self-access PC's, Mac's and Sun Unix workstations in centrally managed computer barns (computing laboratories) within the academic building. Special sections of barns can be reserved for computer teaching and workshop activities. Further, many academic departments and servicing units have their own computing laboratories (Departmental Terminal Rooms or DTR's).
There is a diverse choice of servers, providing different types of network services to network users. These include:
Academic Computing Servers: ITSC provides a wide range of central computing facilities on the Unix environment. Major Unix platforms for general academic computing are Sun Solaris. Students and faculty can use Unix servers to carry out academic and computational activities, as well as accessing e-mail and the Internet.
Library System & CD-ROM Network Servers: The University Library operates a central library system providing an Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC). This uses a DIGITAL AlphaServer 4000 system running DIGITAL Unix. It also has an extensive CD-ROM delivery system.
Distributed Network Servers: ITSC operates over 120 network servers, distributed throughout the campus network. Mainly Unix and Windows NT/2000 based, with the majority installed with 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet adapter, and some even are equipped with a 1,000 Mbps high-speed Gigabit Ethernet network interface. Generally, a network server is dedicated to a single, specific purpose. These include e-mail, application, file, print (there are over 200 network laser printers), directory, proxy and Web servers, etc. Dedication guarantees performance and system robustness, and helps to ease performance tuning and system sizing of a network server.
Administrative Information System Cluster: The University administrative information system runs on a cluster of Compaq OpenVMS systems that include a 4-processor AlphaServer ES40, a 4-processor AlphaServer 4100 system, a 6-processor VAX 7860 symmetric multiprocessing system, and 2 VAX 4500 computers.
Student Dormitory Application Servers: Students can access network services from their on-campus dormitories. Statistics have shown that over 75% of dormitory PC's actively use network services. It is perhaps noteworthy that the peak utilisation period is between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.
Modem Dial-in Access: Faculty, students, and staff can also access University computer systems and network services from their off-campus homes. This is done through a modem dial-in service - connecting the user via a telephone line. Users can access their own account, and also other facilities, such as the Library's OPAC system. To meet a growing demand for the Internet access at home, the support of Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) is available for dial-in access with communications speed up to 56 Kbps.