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Computer Scientist at the Department of BioSciences, Rice University

Undergraduate email did not appear to be affected by the hardware failure (they use Google)

Summary:  Email in the organization goes down, but students not affected because they use google-email. We should also have google email, oh wait, nevermind.

“Undergraduate email did not appear to be affected by the hardware failure” was the message in IT describing the email issues in campus yesterday.

The organization I work for uses one of those Webmail services installed by IT to provide email to staff. Students, on the other hand, are given email services through Google. I’m not aware of how much Google gets paid for this but that does not matter.

When email goes down, people are not happy. Even if it went down for only a few hours. So, what are the options?

  • We all should be moved to email service by Google. This option has the drawback that if the service fails, absolutely no one in the organization would have email.
  • We should use some other email service but I am not fully satisfied with Yahoo’s web client, neither Outlook’s design.
  • Strengthen IT’s capacity to deal with hardware failures. I like this option because as much as I like google-email, I like it more that my organization is independent on something so important as email.

Somehow this issue brought up another topic, online storage. It turns out that some people in the organization prefer to use Dropbox instead of the in-house solution because it costs less and it is easier to use (I don’t have data to back this up myself, no pun intended).

How could this be possible? I’m no IT system support guy (thanks God) but I know that 2TB disks are below $100USD and a server with space for 8 disks costs less than $1,000 for sure.

Is it necessary for an IT department (or Cloud department, whatever) to actually make money out of their in-house options? (that’s how it looks like). I know they have running costs, but I thought such departments are a service for the organization. It is not like the Parking folks, who can only build a parking deck with millions of dollars investment up front.

On a final note, some one told me that the off-campus data center is in a reconditioned “house” that used to be thought to be full of spirits and ghosts. Such ghosts now guard our data off campus. Happy late Halloween then!

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