October 07, 2009, 3:55 PM — Boise State University, the largest university in Idaho, has replaced its aging Cisco Network Registrar software with appliances from BlueCat Networks that it says are easier to manage and less expensive to operate for Domain Name System and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol services.
Boise State's network links more than 170 buildings spread across its 175-acre campus in downtown Boise. The fiber-optic backbone network is being upgraded to 10G Ethernet in December, with 100Mbps bandwidth to the desktop. The network carries data and voice traffic, and it supports 2,300 IP-based phones.
Boise State is a Cisco shop; the university uses all Cisco switches, routers, IP phones, wireless access points and wireless controllers on its network, which supports 21,000 students, faculty and staff.
But when it comes to core network infrastructure services such as DNS and DHCP, the university decided Cisco's Network Registrar was too expensive to operate.
Boise State isn't the only organization to discover that it could save money by switching from DNS software to DNS appliances. The Nevada Department of Corrections recently bought DNS appliances from BlueCat rival Infoblox to replace DNS software from Novell that was requiring too much time from network administrators.
Boise State had the same problem. Until this summer, the university was running an old edition of Cisco Network Registrar -- Version 5.5, which was at the end of its life -- on a Windows server for its DNS and DHCP services.
"It was very limited as far as what was actually in the database for DNS and DHCP, and what you could see through the [graphical user interface]," says Diane Dragone, network engineer at Boise State. "There was no easy way to see what was really in the database except through command line tools."
In addition, Boise State had to do custom coding in order to make this older version of Cisco Network Registrar work with all the vendor tags needed for DHCP.
Boise State needed to upgrade the Cisco Network Registrar software, but that option was too expensive, Dragone says.
Cisco ended support for Cisco Network Registrar Version 5.5 in May 2006, and it is now selling Version 7.0 of the software.
"We didn't want to pay the price for upgrading the software; it became extremely expensive," Dragone says.