Distributed Computing Environment

Campus IT Structure

UB IT Accounts

Electronic Mail

Online Campus Directory Service

World Wide Web

Campus Network


Dial-in Access


Hardware Platforms

Institutional File System

Center for Computational Research

High-tech Classrooms

Educational Technology Center

Students & Computers

Campus Computing Sites

UBiquity Environment

CIT Help Desk

Documentation & Workshops

Key Directions

The UB Information Technology (IT) Environment

UB's Computing Environment

UB has become a leader in developing and deploying an IT environment that empowers University members to accomplish their goals. We have been recognized as a leader in providing the IT resources that students need by the Yahoo Internet Life annual survey conducted by Peterson's, and score equally well using the Educause Guide to Evaluating IT on Campus criteria.

Our students, faculty and staff expect and need multimedia e-mail, high speed networks, wireless access, Web access to library resources and administrative information & services, easy Web publishing, technical support and training, and much more. They have diverse needs in the academic computing arena, including support for:

  • palmtops, desktops, laptops, high performance workstations and supercomputers
  • the development of instructional materials and performance of major research tasks
  • the use of common productivity packages as well as complex special-purpose applications
Administrative computing infrastructure and products provide the Web-based student services (registration, financial aid information, access to grades and degree information) our students expect, as well as the data warehouse, UB InfoSource, needed to provide University information to faculty and staff.

Distributed Computing Environment

The availability of personal computers, high performance workstations, local area networks and access to the Internet & Web have dramatically changed the IT environment at UB. The campus has migrated from centralized, academic mainframe systems to distributed client-server architectures based on Unix, Windows (2000/NT) & Novell servers and desktop machines & high performance workstations. We have also migrated many administrative applications from an IBM mainframe to distributed client-server architectures as well. Web access to IT services, information, and resources is a major component of our campus IT strategy.

More than 95% of faculty and staff have desktop computing technology. Many faculty have acquired their computing technology via their research grant activity.

Students have access to computing resources on campus through a network of public and departmental computing labs which are housed in more than 90 different facilities and contain more than 2000 desktop and high performance systems. In addition, more than 90% of students have personal computers in their living space.

Since Fall, 1999, incoming freshmen have been advised that they will need access to a personal computer in their on-campus or off-campus residences in order to take advantage of innovative ways of learning and enhanced ways of communicating with instructors and classmates. Graduate and professional schools are currently evaluating computer ownership requirements for their students. The School of Dental Medicine initiated a laptop ownership requirement for incoming students in Fall 2000. MBA students are advised that they will need to have access to a personal computer beyond those provided in the University's computing labs.

Campus IT Support Structure

UB has a distributed IT support environment with many campus units involved in IT service delivery. The central IT organization, Computing and Information Technology (CIT), provides the UB community with a broad range of basic computing, telephone, and state-of-the-art networking services and works with distributed technology partners across our campuses to coordinate the planning and delivery of campus IT resources and services. Campus distributed IT staff who provide direct support to faculty and staff using technology in their instructional, research, and administrative activities are organized into IT nodes, in order to provide "critical masses" of local IT support providers to schools and departments. These distributed IT staff report to their respective deans.

A campus IT Coordinating Committee, chaired by a Chief Information Officer (CIO), coordinates information technology planning, funding, and implementation for the campus. A second institution-wide planning group, the Administrative Systems Advisory Board (ASAB), chaired by the Associate CIO, focuses on Web-based solutions for student services and administrative systems.

Below is a description of some of the central tools, resources and services provided by CIT. These services and resources are significantly augmented by the resources of the IT nodes and other units on campus, some of which are also described below.

UB IT Accounts

There are approximately 46,000 UB IT Accounts and more than 88,000 principals in the DCE database. (The latter includes service/host/application accounts, as well as accounts tied to individuals.) UB IT accounts are used by students, faculty, staff, and community partners to access a variety of resources at UB. Students use their UB IT accounts to register for classes (Web registration), access email on the central UB mail service, get listings of current course schedules, get their grades, chart progress to their degrees (degree audit), access MyUB (our student web portal), and access the UBunix timesharing computers.

Electronic Mail (Email)

There are more than 35,000 subscribers to the CIT central IMAP e-mail service . (IMAP stands for Interactive Mail Access Protocol. IMAP e-mail mailboxes can be accessed using Mulberry, Pine, Netscape Communicator, Outlook Express and other email programs.

CIT has a University-wide license for the Mulberry email program. We distribute Mulberry to students, faculty, and staff free of charge, and offer a full range of support services: training, consulting, documentation for Mulberry.

Many people like the convenience of having their email accessible from the Web, since they want to read their email anywhere, anytime that they have access to a Web browser. UB has rolled out a Web mail client, produced by the same vendor as Mulberry (and compatible with Mulberry's address books and folders). Web Mail can be accessed at: Web Mail is also available from Initial testing has shown that Web Mail is slower than the desktop client, Mulberry, and provides a subset of Mulberry's features.

Students, faculty, and staff receive 15 Megabytes of storage space for their mail on the central imap email servers.

Many departments and schools provide additional e-mail services for their students, faculty, and staff. For example, the Science and Engineering IT node and the Computer Science and Engineering department provide e-mail services and other resources to their students, faculty, and staff.

Online Campus Directory (ldap) Service

Our online campus directory service,, provides the entries of individuals and groups at UB.

World Wide Web

UB's Gateway Web Site

The UB Gateway web server and campus info system server are maintained by CIT. These web sites provide a browsable and searchable front-door to the many college, school, and departmental Web servers and sites at UB.

The Infoseek search engine provides searching capability for the UB Gateway web site and campus info system server and has indexed 49,612 pages at 73 campus web server sites.

The Computing & Information Technology (CIT) Web Site is CIT's "front door" to information. This site directs users to IT help, news, documentation, online information resources, training opportunities, facilities, products and services.

Student Web Portal: MyUB is a web-based, personal portal to the online resources undergraduate and graduate students need most.

Campus Network Infrastructure

The campus network spans two campuses, connecting over 100 fiber optic-attached Ethernet LANs supporting more than 14,000 ports or connections.

The campus network has been upgraded to a gigabit (Gbps) Ethernet backbone with 100 Megabit (Mbps) links to buildings. Distribution to the desktop is a combination of switched 10- and 100-Mbps Ethernet. All new installations are 100Mbps Ethernet.

The network includes interconnections with several local, regional and national networks including the Western New York Health Science Consortium, NYSERNet, SUNYNet, Internet and the National Science Foundation's very high-speed backbone network service (vBNS).

The campus Internet (I1) and Internet2 (I2) links are OC3 POS (155Mbps).

All residence halls and UB apartments are wired with Ethernet for Internet connectivity, providing one data connection or port per resident. Most residence halls and UB-owned apartments provide 100 Mbps desktop connectivity. In addition, there are 100 "open ports" available in the University Libraries, providing high speed network connections for faculty and students with laptops.

Internet2: The Next Generation Network and Applications

UB is among the more than 100 American universities participating in Internet2 as a full and active member of this partnership of universities, government agencies and industry to foster the development of the Internet.

Dial-in Access

UB provides more than 1150 dial-in lines for off-campus access to UB resources and the Internet: a string supporting the V.90 56Kbps protocols and a digital string supporting the ISDN protocol.

Campus Wireless Access

CIT has deployed wireless network access in the following North and South campus locations.

North Campus

  • Public Computing Areas
    • 101 Bell Hall
    • 1st Floor, Capen Undergraduate Library Cybrary
    • 3rd Floor, Science & Engineering Library Cybrary
    • 2nd & 4th Floors, Law Library, O'Brian Hall
    • 2nd & 3rd Floors, Lockwood Library Cybraries
  • Classroom Locations
    • O'Brian 107, 113, 406, 706

South Campus

  • 1st & 2nd floor, basement, Health Sciences Library, Abbott Hall

Visit the CIT Wireless web site, for information on a suggested wireless network card, terms and standards, and wireless security.


Voice services are provided through the distribution and configuration of an 8000 line Bell Atlantic Intellipath telephone system, supporting over 10,000 stations on numerous key systems.

Hardware Platforms

CIT provides the following central computing environments:

  • Unix Environment
    • Suncluster: Unix timesharing ( machines for the academic community
      • There are many editing/word processing, database, graphics & other software tools and programming languages for ubunix.
    • Administrative Unix machines for University business and student service systems
    • Nameservice Machines
    • Web Service machines for and
    • Oracle Service Machines for our data warehouse, InfoSource
    • Mail Service Machines for the central mail service described earlier
    • News Service Machines
    • File Service Machines
    • Print Service Machines
    • Ldap Machines.
    • DCE Cell Machines
    • Network Access & Network Service machines
  • IBM Mainframe
    • IBM 2003/135 Mainframe: operating system OS/390
    • The majority of our business and other administrative systems run on the IBM mainframe.

UB's Institutional File System (UBFS)

UBFS makes it possible for students and other users to access their files from "anywhere." That is, students can access their UBFS computer files from their PCs in the residence halls or off-campus residences, from the computers in the campus public computing labs, and from any other UBFS-capable machine on campus. Anywhere-access means that students won't have to carry a floppy disk around with them when they move from their computers at home to the various campus labs and their UBFS files will be backed up daily, reducing the chances that they will lose valuable information files. Students receive 15 megabytes of UBFS space to store their files.

The Center for Computational Research (CCR)

The Center for Computational Research (CCR) is one of the top 10 academic supercomputing sites in the United States.

The mission of the CCR is to support high performance computing research and high-end visualization.

This world-class computational research facility provides resources to faculty and students at UB, as well as to industrial and educational partners in Western New York. These resources are used to solve challenging problems in areas that include biology, medicine, meteorology, chemistry, earthquake studies, and engineering. A number of applications in music and the arts are in the planning stages as well. CCR currently supports more than 80 research groups.

CCR state-of-the-art supercomputer hardware includes

  • a Silicon Graphics Origin 3800 system, consisting of 128 processors connected in a shared-memory architecture.
  • an IBM RS/6000 SP
  • a Sun Microsystems cluster consisting of 16 dual processor Sun Blade 1000 workstations and 48 Sun Ultra 5 333MHz workstations
  • a Sun Enterprise 6000 system which can handle data warehouses with multiple terabytes of data
  • High-end visualization systems from Silicon Graphics (SGI Onyx2) and a Fakespace Systems, Inc. ImmersaDesk R2 system. The visualizations systems create the perception of "virtual reality" through 3-D imagery involving sight, sound, and touch.

The CCR has access via NYSERNet2000 to the major high speed communication networks referred to as Internet2, the Next Generation Network. NYSERNet, a 622 MBPS network, connects UB and the CCR with national and international high-speed networks such as vBNS, Gemini 2000, and Abilene.

The New York State Center for Engineering Design and Industrial Innovation (NYSEDII)

The New York State Center for Engineering Design and Industrial Innovation (NYSCEDII) serves as a new and important resource for the sustenance and growth of the industrial base in Western New York, and New York State altogether. By focusing on the front-end high technology and information intensive design of complex products and the planning of manufacturing facilities, NYSCEDII will develop technologies and provide services that complement other economic development and training activities in the Region and State.

NYSCEDII has three missions:

  • Basic Research
  • Education and Training
  • Industrial Outreach

The infrastructure consists of the following:

  • Virtual Reality Hardware
    • a Mechdyne Surround-Screen Visualization Environment (SSVR) which represents the state-of-the art in visual hardware systems. The 4-wall version of this facility (completed in Spring, 2001) provides a means to rapidly prototype new product and process design concepts in an immersive, virtual environment.
    • a Moog 6 D-O-F Electric Motion Platform, coupled with an immersive visualization capability, which provides an immediate benefit to transportation industries (aircraft, automotive, construction equipment, etc.) involved in product design and training, as well as the location-based entertainment industry.
    • a Fakespace RAVE passive stereo module (exp. April, 2001) which enables large groups to participate simultaneously in a design process or an industrial training workshop.
  • Computational Infrastructure
    • the SGI Rack ONYX-2 system which is the world's most powerful visualization engine, which can simultaneously process 3-D graphics, imaging, and video data in real time. Components of the infrastructure include:
      • SGI Origin-3000 system (exp. Spring, 2001)
      • SGI multi-processor Octane workstations
      • SGI O2 workstations
      • SUN Ultra 80 multi-processor workstations
      • SUN Ultra 60 workstations
      • Macintosh G4 Cube
      • Digital Image Processing facilities
      • Numerous visual and haptic accessories
  • Support Hardware and VR Development Laboratories: A haptic technologies laboratory is necessary to investigate multi-sensory interactions in high end visual environments such as touch, and sound. Hardware such as data gloves and head mounted displays, 3-D wands and navigational hardware, and additional sensing hardware are available. A video editing facility enables industrial partners to feed company specific multimedia data into the hardware facilities.

High-tech Multimedia Classrooms

UB has more than 50 state-of-the-art, high-tech, multimedia classrooms, located on the North and South Campuses. In addition, all of UB's classrooms are wired for Internet access.

Educational Technology Center (ETC)

The Educational Technology Center opened its doors to faculty in the Spring 1999 semester. "Its aim is to help faculty and instructors to design instructional technology applications and to develop web-based and multimedia courses, primarily for undergraduates." The ETC offers workshops free of charge to faculty and other instructors.

UBLearns: Blackboard Course Management System

Blackboard is the commercially-available course management system chosen by UB to enhance traditional courses and provide online courses. Blackboard provides tools to enhance student-student and faculty-student communication, as well as to allow students to test their learning via online testing. In the Fall 2001 semester more than 300 courses were available via UBLearns. The enterprise version of Blackboard has been rolled out for Spring, 2002.

Students & Computers

The July 2001 Freshmen Orientation Survey of Incoming Freshmen indicated that prior to their arrival for studies at UB:
  • 96% of incoming freshmen had computers in their homes
  • 94% of incoming freshmen had Internet access in their homes
    • 69% used their computers to read email daily; 93% at least once a week
    • 55% used their computers to access Web pages daily; 89% at least once a week
  • 76% had taken a computer course in high school
    • 28% had taken a half-year course
    • 23% had taken a one-year course
    • 25% had taken more than a one-year course
  • Incoming students reported that they have a solid background in the use of computer-related software:
    • 93% used the Internet/Web to find information at least once a week
    • 99% used word processing software at least once a week
    • 76% felt that they had very strong skills using the computer for academic work
  • The preferred methods for learning more about computing were:
    • 44% exploring on own
    • 24% via instructor-led workshops
    • 22% from family and friends
The 2001-2002 Student Computing Experiences Survey Mid-year Snapshot found that
  • 91% of all UB students (undergraduates and graduate students) have their own computer in their Residence Hall Room, campus apartment, or off-campus home.
  • 95% of students agree or strongly agree that: Computer technology and resources are very important to my academic and professional success.
  • 85% agree or strongly agree that: Using a computer increases my communication with faculty.
  • 81% agree or strongly agree that: Using a computer increases my communication with other students.
  • 93% of UB students have an email account with an ISP such as AOL or Adelphia OR a free email provider such as Yahoo, in addition to their free UB email account and ISP service.
  • 92% of UB students use the public computing areas on campus.
  • 62% of UB students spend more than 10 hours/week connected to the Internet (reading email, surfing the Web, doing coursework); 77.2% spend at least 8 to 10 hours per week.
The iConnect initiative strongly recommends that all freshmen and transfer students bring computers with them to UB, so that they can take advantage of innovative ways of learning and enhanced ways of communicating with their instructors and classmates. When students graduate from UB, they will have acquired computing skills that will give them a competitive edge in the 21st century workplace.

Campus Computing Sites

Public and departmental computing facilities continue to play a vital role on campus. At present there are well over 2200 personal computers and workstations in campus labs run by CIT, nodes and departments. Many labs offer specialty software for course work and are open 24 hours per day.

UBiquity Computing Environment: Integrating Technologies

UBiquity is the name of the computing environment provided to the Engineering and Natural Sciences & Math community by Science and Engineering Node Services. All members of the University community can use the UBiquity environment in Bell 101.

UBiquity is designed to allow access to a common set of computing tools including word processing, spreadsheet, statistical, and math applications, from different computing platforms (Sun/Unix and Windows NT workstations). It presents users with a common "look and feel" on both platforms: high performance Unix workstations and Windows PCs. UBiquity also provides access to file space, where data are stored securely, backed up regularly, and available whenever/wherever needed.

Every day faculty and students use UBiquity infrastructure to run the shared, site-licensed software applications needed at a comprehensive research university that would be too costly for individuals to purchase for their own personal computers/workstations.

CIT Help Desk

CIT Help Desk The CIT Help Desk provides consultation on the core computing topics needed by the University community. An estimated 20,000 "problem tickets" were logged and resolved during the 98-99 academic year. The Help Desk receives requests for computing assistance via phone call, walk-in and email requests.

User Documentation & Workshops

More than 80 reference, step-by-step, and tutorial documents are available electronically through the CIT documentation system on the World Wide Web at Free workshops on more than 30 topics are offered by CIT and the Libraries. UBMicro also offers workshops for a fee.

Key Directions

  • iConnect@Buffalo: Closing the digital divide 
    • UB developed the Access99 computing initiative to ensure equitable access to computing for incoming freshmen and enhanced teaching and learning experiences for undergraduates. UB has seen computer ownership increase each year of the initiative. 
    • Each year the iConnect SNAP program has helped to close the digital divide, providing approximately 10% of incoming freshmen who demonstrate compelling financial need with new or nearly new computers that meet campus standards. 
    • "SWAT" teams of student computer experts make "house calls", providing just-in-time help for all students in the residence halls.
    • The Microsoft Campus License Agreement provides the latest Microsoft Office suite of productivity software and other products to students, faculty and staff.
  • Bioinformatics 
  • Networking
    • Thin Client Computing - Citrix MetaFrame Solutions: Science and Engineering Node Services (SENS) has been using Citrix in its UBiquity environment for several years to support heterogeneous environments. CIT and SENS are now partnering to use an application server model to provide student access to needed software. Thin client computing can reduce hardware costs by extending the life of older PCs and controlling the costs of new hardware expenditures, as well as by reducing software licensing costs.
  • Open Source Software/Linux Pilots: Science and Engineering Node Services has been leading a pilot project to distribute Linux (Red-Hat) and open source software on campus and to provide PCs with Linux in public computing areas.

  • Distance Learning, Videoconferencing Technology UB has an active distance learning program with two classrooms (Baldy, Abbott) equipped with real-time videoconferencing.

    UB is also exploring the use of advanced desktop videoconferencing technology (including Cisco's IP/TV) as a means to distribute events, such as conferences featuring high profile speakers who can provide information about their on-going research, to the the desktops of UB faculty, staff and students. The potential of this technology for telemedicine, high-grade distance learning, and faculty collaboration is being explored.

  • UB's Digital Library

    University at Buffalo Information Technology
    Office of the CIO (IT) Academic Services (ASCIT) Administrative Computing Services (ACS) Operational Support Services (OSS) Technical Services (TKS) Educational Technology Center (ETC) The Libraries

    Questions about CIT services should be sent to the CIT Help Desk
    Questions and comments about this Information Technology web site should be sent to:

    S. Peters
    ASCIT Associate Director
    (716) 645-3703

    Copyright © 1999 All Rights Reserved
    Last updated: October, 2003