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School shuts down email for four days; transfers servers

Server+room+located+on+the+first+floor+of+Tillinghast
Server room located on the first floor of Tillinghast

Server room located on the first floor of Tillinghast

Adam Kenner

Adam Kenner

Server room located on the first floor of Tillinghast

Leonora Gogos, Staff Writer

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In order to upgrade the school’s email server, FirstClass, to the newer, more secure version, the technology department shut down the school’s  server from September 20 to September 25.

This change was absolutely necessary in order to avoid any unplanned server outages, like one that occurred two years ago, and to ensure the smooth usage of the technology, Kenner said.

“We’ve reviewed a bunch of options, and we chose this approach,” Adam Kenner, head of the Technology Department, said. “For the moment, we think it’s the best thing to do.” The new server will hopefully be easier to manage and more secure, Kenner said. With the newest operating systems in place, there is a lower chance of hardware failure or losing any data, Kenner said.

 

Spyri Potamopoulous

The school’s server used to be located on physical hardware, but the update required the email software to be relocated to virtual servers.

“There’s a tremendous amount of data in the server, and it has to actually be copied from one drive to another,” Kenner said. The school can copy roughly 25 gigabytes of data to the other server per hour from one place to another. The school’s server contains roughly 2,000 gigabytes worth of content which adds up to roughly 80 hours of copying.

Once the material was copied to the new servers, First Class was able to turn back on and students regained access to their emails. However, that if anything went wrong with the copy, the school’s original server would still be intact and useable and nothing would be lost, Kenner said.

The school wants to keep their technology as current as possible, Kenner said. Since the hardware is too old, it’s much safer to move to a new platform, he said. 

These changes make the server more secure, allow the school to run the most up-to-date software, and eliminate the redundant architecture of the server.

Kenner explained redundant architecture, saying “The server lives in two physically distinct, separate places at the same time. The switch allows us to move to only one of these. Updating the server allows the school to access more technological capabilities we cannot do in our current environment,” Kenner said.

Students around the school had different takes on the outage. For Amman Kejela (10), the outage turned out to be an nconvenience because he had two assessments the following week and was not able to email his teachers about them.

“I had all the same obligations without a key tool to fulfill them,” he said. Kejela had also just switched a couple classes last week and was depending on the long weekend to make the adjustment, but the outage made that relatively impossible. On a scale of 1-10 reliance on FirstClass, Kejela ranked himself a 9.

Alena Underwood (10) found the outage to be difficult as well because she wasn’t able to check for homework or email her teachers.

Teachers were also affected by the FirstClass outage.

“The outage was just a reality that we had to live with,” Dean of Student Life Susan Delanty said. “It was a little frustrating at times but it was also somewhat peaceful to have no choice about checking and answering FirstClass emails.”

Math teacher Charles Garcia found the weekend of the outage more relaxing than it would have been had we had access to FirstClass, Garcia said. However, he found the aftermath of the outage to be difficult, because there was a typo on a homework problem and students were not able to reach out to him to inquire about it, Garcia said.

“We appreciate the patience of the community,” Kenner said. “I know it’s an inconvenience for people who depend on it, so we certainly appreciate that everyone  is  willing to cooperate with this.”

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Horace Mann's Weekly Newspaper Since 1903
School shuts down email for four days; transfers servers