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Tuesday 22 May 2018

There’s a tangible feeling of relief at the University as the majority of assessments have now been completed. The nervous wait for results now begins. What many of the undergraduates don’t realise is that several of the staff are also studying for postgraduate awards and have therefore also been completing assessments.

Senior Lecturer in Media Technology Paul Bourne has been studying an MSc Applied Computing and has just completed a research project with local network services provider Vostron. The company provides mission critical business networks such as IP telephony and inter-network access. The project looked at comparing the effectiveness of several first-hop redundancy protocols that are commonly used to provide high availability networks. Traditional broadcast infrastructures are rapidly being replaced by IP networks and it’s vital that engineers entering the workplace have a thorough understanding of such systems. The audio engineering world has had audio over IP within closed networks for several years but these networks are expanding and video systems are now catching up too. Reliability is a key concern within media networks so research is important to provide guidance on optimal configurations and generally increase our understanding of how they behave.

Paul’s MSc is part of his continuing professional development and allows him to bring knowledge into the course team from other departments as well as from external companies such as Vostron. In this case is has provided a formal framework to import valuable skills from the Computing and Networking programme. Such personal development allows the programme to keep its degrees current and provide students with the knowledge required by contemporary industry.

The project itself involved developing a test method with engineers from Vostron and running a variety of configurations on equipment within their lab. The protocols were analysed to see how rapidly they could failover and restore redundant connections and assessed the impact on the traffic flow. Paul says “working on a live brief has been incredibly helpful as it has allowed me to relate theoretical concepts to their application. Talking to the engineers at Vostron has allowed me to understand more about how real networks are typically configured and the reasons behind their designs.” As part of his assessment Paul prepared a whitepaper and presented it to a group of peers and professionals. He also submitted the abstract to the Ninth International Conference on Numerical Methods and Applications, which has been accepted to be presented at the conference in August. The paper for his Advanced IP Switching unit is available here and will be refocused for presentation at the conference.

The partnership is truly symbiotic as it provides Vostron with research to inform their network designs and allows them to tailor graduates to their needs. Meanwhile Solent benefits from real-world knowledge and being able to offer fantastic learning opportunities to their students.

Paul will now spend the summer building on the work as the project has raised several questions that will feed into his Masters thesis.