All computer labs to close for eight hours Saturday

As the first major step toward completing the move to its new data center in the Fourth Avenue Building, the Portland State Office of Information Technologies will shut down all OIT services for eight hours this Saturday.

From midnight to 8 a.m. on Saturday, all sent e-mails will be queued for later delivery and Banweb, WebCT, Samla, all computer labs and the PSU web site will be closed. More a data transfer than a physical move, the eight-hour closure transfers the OIT communication hub from Shattuck Hall to its new home in the Fourth Avenue Building, preparing the new location for the servers that keep the school OIT services operating smoothly.

The transfer team will first connect two new routers, the networking components that distribute information from the servers to OIT programs like Banweb, in the Fourth Avenue Building. The rest of the process on Saturday will be spent transferring data from the old servers.

Sue Riegsecker, the network operations manager for computing and network services, said she has been preparing with her crew for months to make a seamless transition. In February a server restart lost thousands of e-mails after a complete power outage, which helped the team develop the best plan to relocate the data center.

“If you try to move too much you risk exactly what happened on that fateful day – a power outage that caused complications when we came back up,” Riegsecker said. “So if we move the networking first, then we can plan on how to move the servers.”

Shortly after that loss, Riegsecker met with Mark Gregory, vice president of partnerships, planning and information, and Jahed Sukhun, director of user support services, to map out a successful move.

“If we take a whole weekend and try to move those servers,” Riegsecker said, “we could potentially put the campus at risk for longer outages from unexpected complications.”

The group plans to move the information in intervals, rather than all at once. Sukhun said performing the transfer this way prevents large information losses.

“If we do it in intervals, for instance if e-mail doesn’t come on, it’s just the one that didn’t come up instead of Banner, WebCT and who knows what else,” Sukhun said.

The remaining parts of the data center will be moved over the coming summer months. Future closures are planned to be brief, isolating one server at a time and minimizing the impact.

“We’ll be doing these in four-hour blocks on Friday nights over the summer, when most of the campus is out partying,” Riegsecker said.

Sukhun prepared the PSU community for the closure by sending informational campus-wide e-mails, and plans to record a message for anyone who calls the help desk that night. The OIT web site and PSU’s web site will also have reminders leading up to this weekend’s data closure.

“This was very much an input process,” Sukhun said, about how the dates and times were chosen. He tried to lessen the impact on users through close consultation with campus entities.

Riegsecker said she hopes to be out of the Shattuck data center by the beginning of the fall term, freeing the space for another use. The new space is designed to last for at least another 20 years, which Riegsecker said should be realistic, since hardware is getting smaller and more effective.