RSVPN: *The Official Word*

We have been fielding many RSVPN (one of two off-campus, CWL-authenticated connections to the Library’s eResources) emails at lib-ejhelp. You’ve been frustrated by RSVPN’s unstable performance (or non-performance). So have we. Here is the official word on the RSVPN state of affairs. Hope this helps to clarify things. And please, do continue to email us at with WHATEVER eResource problems you encounter.

[The following is taken from the lib-all email Rue sent on 06Feb2009]

Over the past two months or so, we’ve been experiencing a series of acute and transient yet persistent problems with the RSVPN service, one of several remote access methods to our electronic resources. Because this affects our users, I wanted to provide you with some background on where we are with remote access to our online resources.

Methods of access to library electronic resources:
*Direct access via IP – service provided in conjunction with campus networking, UBC ITS
*Remote access via VPN (requires CWL) – service provided in conjunction with campus networking, UBC ITS
*Remote access via RSVPN (requires CWL) – service provided in conjunction with campus networking, UBC ITS
*Remote access via library proxy server (requires library barcode/pin and browser configuration) – service provided by Library IT

In most cases, access to our resources is controlled by IP address, the network address of the computer you’re using. For UBC networked computers, we utilize a range of known addresses that we share with our vendors to facilitate access and access is easy and fast for on-campus users. For remote users, or persons who are not on the UBC network, a number of possible access points have been developed, all of which have issues of their own. In the case of the health facilities, we have two specific problems – many users are on health authority networks which are separately maintained and configured and many users do not have the ability to obtain a UBC campus wide login account (CWL). Using the library’s proxy isn’t always a solution because many users work on locked down computers and can’t make the necessary configuration changes.

As the list above implies, the Library is part of the connection path that includes the campus network, campus ID management, and campus IT support. In the case of RSVPN, we have been relying on UBC ITS for the back-end hardware to support the service. Unfortunately, they’ve had a series of issues on their end, including dealing with hardware replacements, at a time that they are undergoing a top to bottom review and reorganization of services and priorities.

The good news is that they are making progress on several fronts, including moving ahead with updating the RSVPN service. The bad news is that such a large project will take months to complete. Their target date for full implementation is late summer. However, the Library will be an early adopter and tester and we’re hopeful to see improvements as soon as possible. UBC ITS also is making headway on improved identity management, which will provide users with easier and more secure authentication methods. The Library is also working with UBC ITS and the health authority IT departments to define a problem notification and escalation process for RSVPN.

Additionally, the library is moving to consolidate its proxy services under EZproxy, which will provide easier use (no browser configuration changes needed) and additional support options in that area. We are also in the final stages of hiring a new Systems Librarian with the working title of E-Access Librarian, who will be tasked with coordinating all aspects of electronic access to our resources, including remote access. One of the first jobs for this new hire will be to work with our various access methods and improve the service and information provided to our users.

We don’t like to see any of our users having access problems to our resources and we take any problems very seriously. Remember to report any access problems that might be subscription or resource related to and any problems that might be technical or network related to the Library Help Desk, It’s sometimes hard to diagnose a problem, so don’t worry too much about where to send the problem. The two desks do coordinate on problem solving.


Renulfo (Rue) Ramirez

Associate University Librarian, Library Systems & Information Technology / Technical Services
University of British Columbia

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