University of the Sciences

2500+ Employees

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Information Technology Department Relies on Fabric Networking Solutions to Deliver Performance, Reliability and Business Continuity

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – For nearly two centuries, University of the Sciences (USciences) has been preparing students to shape the science of health, offering a wide range of life and health sciences disciplines. The network that supports the school’s approximately 3,000 students and 1,000 staff and faculty members was recently upgraded with products from the Avaya Virtual Services Platform (VSP) 9000 and the Avaya Ethernet Routing Switch 5000 ranges. This upgrade delivered significant improvements in network performance, uptime and reliability.

University of the Sciences

Meeting the Needs of a 21st Century University


The USciences Information Technology (IT) department faces a challenge common to most universities – meeting ever-increasing demands for services and applications while providing high network availability.

“Uptime is one of the key issues,” explains John Masciantonio, executive director of IT at USciences. “These days, technology is considered a utility just like plumbing and electricity; people are simply not willing to put up with a lot of outages. There are also increased demands on the network due to factors such as the proliferation of mobile devices, access to the Internet and video-intensive applications. Add to that the access incoming students have had to technology at home and in their high schools, and universities have a lot to keep up with.”

Given the advanced age of the University’s core network, Masciantonio and his team undertook an extensive upgrade project with the goals of achieving the highest availability possible and diversifying the network. To that end, they deployed a solution comprising the Avaya Virtual Services Platform 9000 and Avaya Ethernet Routing Switch 5500 and 5600 series products.

University of the Sciences

“We’ve been looking to diversify our network for a long time. Our primary Data Center is in the basement of the oldest building on campus, so we needed to get away from a single point-of-failure,” says Masciantonio. “The best solution was to move to the Avaya VSP 9000 platform and duplicate that at another location on campus. We also implemented Avaya’s Switching Cluster technology so that one catastrophic situation wouldn’t cripple us.” Switch Clustering is one of several high-availability, high-performance, and virtualization-enabling technologies offered as part of Avaya’s Virtual Enterprise Network Architecture framework.


The network upgrade has been a boon to several recently deployed applications, such as the hosted, cloud-based Blackboard learning management system. Lecture Capture is also very popular with students. It records class sessions and makes them available to students for playback. This high-volume video capture places much greater demands on the network.

Another driver behind the upgrade is the sheer amount of wireless devices on the network - 400-500 students have Apple iPad devices and almost all of them have laptops.

USciences also moved to a hybrid IP phone system in concert with the deployment of Avaya VSP 9000, and as Masciantonio notes, the upgrade has been critical to the success of the new VoIP solution.

“It all comes back to uptime and reliability; people expect to have a phone system available at all times.”

John Masciantonio, executive director

In addition, USciences is actively growing its online learning presence in order to broaden its potential student base and remain competitive. The network upgrade will be key in supporting the increased demands of the distance-learning program. Often, online learners are non-traditional students who are not in close proximity to the school and are likely to be doing asynchronous course work outside of traditional IT support hours. They could even be in different parts of the country or the world. When these students are trying to access USciences’ resources, regardless of the time of day, those resources need to be available, seamlessly.


For Long Le, director of Computing and Network Services at USciences, peace of mind is one of the biggest benefits of the network upgrade. “A major goal of this upgrade is high-availability. Adding redundancy to the network gives us that peace of mind, if anything happens in the original NOC, the network won’t go down.”

The Avaya Switch Cluster solution has doubled the performance from the end-points, with each of the 20 campus buildings doubling its capacity to the core. As Masciantonio describes, this results in cost savings for the organization. “We don’t have to implement a separate solution to increase our network speed; we’ve already accomplished that by beefing up the core and putting Switch Clustering in place.”

The network upgrade also doubled capacity and increased bandwidth to 2Gbps per building. And the VSP 9000 is the only solution on the market that provides active/active cores, which ensures that all of the available capacity is actively available, all of the time, maximizing the return on investment. This solution is also extremely flexible, for example, a dormitory that has a particularly large number of power users can now easily be supplied with up to 20Gbps.

Masciantonio reports that traffic on the network has increased since the upgrade, but there have been no bottlenecks or performance issues. He adds: “In networking, there’s no hiding the bad news.”

“Success for us is no complaints, and any past complaints have gone away since we implemented the Avaya solution.”

John Masciantonio, Executive Director of IT, USciences

Mark Nestor, USciences CIO, comments, “I am very pleased to have the Avaya solution in place. The reliability it provides frees up my time to focus on other, more pressing, issues.”

The university is currently constructing a new building and implementing new programs, both of which were factors in the network upgrade. “Future-proofing the network is definitely something we took into consideration.”

“We wanted a solution that had a long lifespan that we wouldn’t need to change out in a couple of years, and we got that with Avaya.”

Mark Nestor, Chief Information Officer, USciences

University of the Sciences
  • Headquarters:

  • United States

  • # Employees:

  • 13000

At University of the Sciences (USciences), students embark on a challenging learning experience in a proving ground for successful professionals in the science and healthcare-related fields. The University has produced leaders in the science and healthcare marketplaces since its founding in 1821. Students in USciences’ five colleges learn to excel in scientific analysis and to apply their skills to improving healthcare in the lives of people worldwide through such disciplines as pharmacy, biology, physical therapy, healthcare business, and health policy.

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