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Building Upgrades: Information Technology and Telephone Systems

PEO used the move to 40 Sheppard as the opportunity to significantly upgrade the information technology infrastructure supporting the business. A one gigabit network was designed and installed using Cisco switches, a fibre optic backbone, and category 6 cabling to the workstations. Security is maintained through a Cisco firewall supplemented by an intrusion detection system. Component redundancy and fail-over were incorporated in all aspects of the design/installation of the multi-floor facility.

PEO also migrated the telephone system to Voice Over IP (VOIP) technology. All the existing phone numbers and fax numbers were retained. Voice and data now run over the same network while a virtual LAN ensures suitable Quality of Service for the voice traffic.

In the summer of 2008, PEO had outsourced the management and operation of the servers for both the production computing environment as well as the development & testing environment. Data communications to the out source location is over a 100 megabit fibre optic based service. A wireless communications link is also incorporated with automatic fail-over to it as the backup connection to the out source location in the unlikely event that the fibre optic connection becomes unavailable.

Hardware for the few servers remaining at PEO was upgraded and virtual server technology introduced in order to limit the number of physical devices required. The large computer room at 25 Sheppard which once held forty servers plus telephone PBX, network switches, and data communications equipment has been replaced at 40 Sheppard by a small computer room, roughly 120 square feet, holding only two servers plus the telephone system and network components.

A secured wireless service is available in all areas occupied by PEO. Staff has the ability to connect wirelessly into the network wherever they happen to be while working at PEO. Visitors are also able to easily connect to the wireless service to gain access to the internet and for limited print services. These wireless services are complemented by an enhanced VPN facility so that staff working remotely (i.e. at home or traveling) have full access to the PEO computing environment.

The technology infrastructure was designed with a view to the future. PEO expects to more fully exploit web and video conferencing technologies in the coming years. As the various staff, volunteer and public meeting facilities are introduced; sophisticated audio visual services will be incorporated. The infrastructure will support these new collaboration services and associated increase in demands for bandwidth.