University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

Archive for May, 2014

High Availability During Shut down

UITS has implemented infrastructure changes to permit high availability capabilities for our services.

Contemporary IT system and service robustness is best accomplished through a three tier model consisting of 1) effective design and professional practices 2) high availability through infrastructure and operating diversity 3) disaster recovery as an insurance strategy using an external vendor specialist.  The first strategy has been our historical approach and the organization is actively pursuing the third strategy.  UITS has added high availability capability by implementing custom network connectivity between our primary data center in Gant and our secondary machine room in HBL.  This multi-site data center capability allows us to deliver virtualized services from two independent locations as a single extended offering.

Our primary data center in Gant will undergo disruptive upgrades to both power and environmentals this weekend that will result in a 12-18 hour loss of services from this location.  By diversifying a number of our generically consumed services between our paired data centers using our new high availability infrastructure, UTIS will be maintaining the following services without substantive interruption during the upgrades to the Gant data center.

  • Networking (wired and wireless)
  • Email (Microsoft Exchange)
  • Authentication (NetID, AD, Radius, CAS, etc)
  • Departmental web content management (Aurora)
  • University core websites (alert, it status, today, uconn)

Delivery from the secondary HBL location will begin almost immediately as the primary delivery location is shutdown.  Any disruption of these services during failover will be extremely brief and should be virtually unnoticed.  Outages have an increasingly disruptive impact on our community and we will continue to pursue high availability as well as other architectural and operational strategies to improve the performance and stability of UITS systems and services.

Spam Filter Improvements

UITS has increased the sensitivity of the UCONN email spam filters to more effectively prevent the delivery of unwanted messages.

The university email challenge has always been to correctly identify and prevent the delivery of unwanted messages without misidentifying and blocking wanted messages.  Recent feedback from our community indicated that the system was permitting the delivery of too much spam.  UITS carefully assessed the service configuration and implemented adjustments this morning to improve its filtering performance.  Our tests indicate that this will safely reduce spam delivery by approximately 20%.

Please do not hesitate to contact us or the UITS Service Desk if you have questions or concerns or if you believe that your email is being blocked incorrectly.

Access to the University Network Monitoring System

UITS has enabled guest access to WhatsUp, the university network monitoring system.

UITS network technicians utilize WhatsUp to monitor the current status of more than 3,000 network devices in our data network.  This tool is not designed or intended to be a generally consumed service at the University, but it is possible that it might be useful for other IT professionals.  We have enabled read-only access to WhatsUp from any campus network.  You may login using “guest” as both the username and password.  Off campus access to this resource requires use of the University VPN service.

Changes to Wait Time on the UITS Support Phone

The six minute limit on UITS Service Desk phone system hold times has been discontinued.

This limit was originally created to address feedback pertaining to long holds, but it has become clear that it is not the optimal way to deal with this issue and it has the unintended side effect of forcibly disconnecting people who might have preferred to continue holding.  UITS wants to make it easier for the community to access help resources, and so callers on hold will be periodically prompted with three options:

  • Leave a message
  • Create a ticket through ServiceIT
  • Continue to hold

UITS will continue our review of help desk processes to increase call throughput, but in the interim we believe that the range of options above will better meet the different needs of individual callers.

End of Semester Moratorium

There will be a two-week UITS moratorium on network and system changes starting today, Friday, May 2, through Friday, May 16.

We understand that this time of year is a critical period with students and faculty trying to meet end of semester obligations.  UITS has imposed significant restrictions on changes to systems and services that might have a production impact in order to minimize potential outages during this high anxiety period.  Changes required to respond to emergent situations will be duly evaluated and pursued only if their need is significant.