About the Author

Charles Spurgeon is a co-author of the book “Ethernet – The Definitive Guide, 2nd Edition”

He is a Senior Technology Architect for the ITS Networking group at the University of Texas at Austin, and he has been involved in developing and managing large campus computer networks for many years. Charles got his first email account on UT Austin mainframes in 1979, and his first Unix account (Berkeley Software Distribution v4.0 for the VAX) while working at Stanford University in 1981.

At Stanford, Charles worked with a group at SUMEX-AIM (Stanford University Medical EXperimental computing–Artificial Intelligence in Medicine) that created the first version of an internet router, which was developed by multiple groups at Stanford and used to build the campus network. An internet router is a device used to route packets of data around a network system. The data in those packets make up the content shown in Web browsers, the sounds heard in Skype phone calls or the video display for Netflix movies, making routers essential to the operation of complex networks and the worldwide Internet. The Stanford prototype router became the originating product of a startup company called cisco Systems (the lower case “c” is not a typo).

Cisco grew into a company that spelled their name with a capital letter and developed many networking devices. However, Charles never worked at Cisco. Instead, he returned to UT Austin in the late 1980s, where he has worked as the network architect, building and managing a rapidly growing campus network at one of the largest research universities in the country.

To provide some idea of the size of the place, there are 50,000 students and 12,000 full time and 12,000 part time faculty and staff at the University of Texas at Austin, located in 200 buildings and sites covering over 20 million gross square feet of indoor space. The university budget for 2013-2014 was $2.35 billion, including research and contract grant funding of over 580 million dollars.

The UT Austin network supports roughly 251,000 unique computers in a given year, and the wired network includes 153,000 wired Ethernet ports in 3,400 switches and routers. There is a large 802.11 wireless LAN (Wi-Fi) system with 12,000 radios in over 6,000 access points. In 2013 the wireless system supported a peak of over 40,000 concurrent users during the busy hours of the day. The UT Austin data center, based on Cisco Nexus equipment, supports over 1,000 servers and hundreds of virtual machines. Anyone interested in even more details can find them in the UT Austin 2012-2013 Campus Network Report.