Technology Department tests new network monitoring program

Martha Schick, Managing Editor

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YouTube is available on and off, students are required to log in to the internet, and websites are blocked and unblocked depending on the day.  This is due to the temporary replacement of SonicWall MS8 3100 with Cymphonix Network Composer as the program that controls the flow of traffic on JC’s wireless internet.

Cymphonix has a unique advantage over SonicWall, according to Director of Technology Greg Russell.  It allows him to prioritize websites, making the internet connection to high priority websites faster and slowing the connection to those with low priority.

“You can prioritize the traffic so that school-related things can have higher priority than non-school-related things… We’re running this in an evaluation mode, so at this point we’re not really prioritizing anything.  We’re just using it to see how things are working and then probably sometime during the evaluation I’ll try doing a little prioritizing,” Russell said.

According to Russell, examples of high priority websites include SharePoint, Edmodo, and student mail.

Students do not necessarily agree with Russell’s outlook on Cymphonix.  “I think they should just keep it the same.  Changing everything is making it complicated,” freshman Brady Fritz said.

However, sophomore Karly Horn has high hopes for the new program.  “I have heard that the administration is trying to speed up internet or get a better handle on our internet usage. I just know some sites have been blocked and my internet hasn’t gotten any faster, but also that they are still trying to work out any problems, so I guess we’ll just wait and see,” Horn said.

Russell will also be testing the filtering ability of Cymphonix.  “Like any sort of filter, it allows you to block things… we’ve had some of these capabilities all along, so we’ll see if this device does a better job [than SonicWall].  I have essentially the same categories on this that I had on the firewall…If it’s doing a better job, then it would be blocking more of what we’ve been attempting to block in the past,” Russell said.

According to Russell, Cymphonix “does monitor [students’ laptops], but we’ve had that capability in the past.  We’ll be looking to see if it does a better job of actually reporting things like traffic and general internet use.”

Russell has not yet made the decision to keep Cymphonix, and it will be sent back if it “doesn’t do a better job.”  Russell is also planning on looking at “one or two similar devices,” but they may not be tested before school is out.

“If we do decide to proceed, students won’t have to log in anymore.  There will be something we can utilize to auto-login,” Russell said.  This will be a program installed onto students’ laptops, but will not extend to other devices.  He says that students will only have to log in for “one or two weeks,” and that he realizes that “it’s a hassle.”

Martha Schick is a Managing Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.

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