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Network Notices

Network downtime

Published: 5-20-2011 7:40 am

Greetings all,
On Wednesday afternoon of this week we received a phone call from HP indicating that it was seeing some troublesome error messages being reported on our primary storage unit that holds software and data for a great number of servers on campus.  HP's concern was that if the problem was not repaired, it could lead to loss of data.  Unfortunately, the repair process itself could also potentially lead to loss of data, not a good conundrum to be in.
First and foremost, rest assured that all of our campus data is backed up to tape and housed outside of the Campus Services building in the event of an emergency, so if the system were to fail, we do have tape backups of everything.  Tape, however, takes quite some time to restore and the recovery process would be rather drawn out, so we wanted to have a much faster recovery plan in place, should we have a data loss situation.
We have a second storage system on campus that is not yet fully sized to be a full replica of the first machine, but HP has loaned us enough drives and we have been busily copying all of the content from the first storage unit to the second one.  Most of our campus servers now have up to date data on both storage systems.  We will receive more drives this morning and sometime late this afternoon/evening we hope to have the remaining servers duplicated on both units. 
As soon as that process is complete we're going to need to take nearly all of the campus servers down and attempt the repairs on the first unit.  If those repairs are successful and quick we should be able to restore service fairly rapidly.  If those repairs are not so successful, we will reconfigure the servers to use the second storage unit and bring things up as quickly as we can, though it may take several hours to accomplish this. 
The net result is that some time this evening or tomorrow morning we will be taking nearly the entire network down to enact these repairs.  We don't know exactly when yet, it will depend on how quickly things finish copying over this afternoon.  We want to start as soon as we can to ensure that we have no negative impact on classes next week or freshman registration.
If you had planned on working over the weekend, please e-mail me with phone contact information and we'll make an effort to call you prior to taking the systems down.  We hope to be done with this process Saturday afternoon at the latest, but at this point we have very few guarantees, other than the safety of our data, which we are very confident of, due to the (now) multiple backups we have in place.
Sorry for the long winded e-mail, but we wanted you to be briefed on the situation as accurately as we could.
Thanks everyone for your patience and when we have service restored we'll send out another notice.

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