IU able to meet remote working needs

woman sitting at a computer deskView print quality image
Emily Sterneman, project manager in the IT Communication Office at UITS, works at her home office near the Morgan-Monroe State Forest. Photo by Alex Kumar, Indiana University

Dan Calarco, chief of staff for the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, said IU is licensed for 4,000 users on its virtual private network, PulseSecure, but that its contract with the vendor, Juniper, allows for 25,000 users for up to 56 days. And if more users are needed, IU can pay extra for that, he added.

IU has about 20,000 staff and faculty, according to the IU Factbook, Calarco said.

More importantly, the speed at which the VPN handles data could accommodate 4,000 users simultaneously streaming video. But most people just access word-based documents remotely, which would use about one-millionth of the VPN's capacity threshold, he said.

IU also has the ability to handle all videoconferencing needs for everyone working remotely. In addition to Zoom, it has two backup services: Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts.

"Everyone at IU already has an account. They just have to access it. They can be up and running in minutes," Calarco said.

And, if needed, IU could turn on Pexip, a videoconferencing service that it used previously and hosted locally in its data center, meaning it isn't cloud-based.

The main issue for anyone working from home is to make sure that their local internet provider provides the capacity that matches their needs, and that they have the hardware that they'll need, Calarco said.

"If you need hardware, ask your department for a loaner device. If it's not available, IU Surplus might have hardware to purchase, or your department might be able to purchase it at an affordable rate," he said.

IU technology leaders conduct annual exercises to address natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes and tornadoes, and in the past have drilled for pandemics, Calarco said. That's how the university came up with the thresholds it has for required bandwidth.

"You never know everything that's going to happen until you are in the situation, but we are better prepared than if we had not done these kinds of simulations," he said.

For those who need to work remotely but have questions or problems to troubleshoot, Calarco suggested they:

  • Go online at keepworking.iu.edu to learn about things such as network security and computer health.
  • Contact their department's IT professionals.
  • Call the UITS around-the-clock support center at 812-855-6789.