Dear Faculty/Staff/Students and others,
On Tuesday morning, June 24 our email and web server's hard drive started to die and we were forced to take the server offline in order to salvage any new data since the last backup the day before as well as to try and rebuild the system.
We are glad to inform you that the RuCCS website as well as Lab websites are up and running again on our new server and active email accounts have been recreated on a new server as well. Old email messages are still being transferred over to the new server, so if you don't see your old email messages yet, please be patient. We expect the process to complete by tomorrow, Saturday, June 28th.
We apologize for any inconvenience this breakdown may have caused you. If you have any questions, please contact Hristiyan (Chris) Kourtev, our IT expert.
Here's some additional information about the incident and the services that SAS provides for us.
Our e-mail is now functioning on the SAS-IT mail server (with no change in your e-mail address) and Chris Kourtev was able to get a new system setup to host our website, which is now back online.
Our old mail server was running on a workstation class machine that didn't have the hard drive redundancy that is recommended for server systems. The failure of the main drive in the system required us to scramble to make the recent changes. During that process we also discovered that another drive in the system was also failing.
Our mail is now running on significantly more powerful and reliable systems. The SAS-IT systems reside in the secure Hill Center machine room and benefit from the climate and power protection that space provides. This includes redundant air conditioning and generator backup as well as excellent network connectivity. The SAS-IT infrastructure includes five large server class systems connected through a redundant 10 gigabit network to a large enterprise class storage array. This highly redundant storage array automatically recovers from drive failures and allows for most maintenance to be performed without taking any of the systems offline. That array is further connected a secondary array on College Avenue
where all data is replicated and backed up daily. In short, a problem like this one cannot happen to the system you are now using.
While backups were being performed on your old server, the rapidly changing nature of e-mail makes it difficult to restore mailboxes to their previous state. There is almost always a gap between when the backup is taken and when a system failure occurs. While we believe that we recovered everyone's mail, there is the possibility that incoming mail might have been lost during the time period between when the drive failure manifested and when we actually turned off mail services.
The import of old mail into the new Zimbra server is still proceeding and will likely take until mid-Saturday to complete. This is taking a long time for several reasons. First, we had to find and then modify software to convert the mail from the format the old software used so it could then be imported into the new mail server. After that conversion the individual folders have to be created, permissions assigned, subscription set and messages imported and all that takes time, especially with mailboxes that run into multiple gigabytes. We did not import Trash, Junk or SPAM folders.
Once the import has completed, you will receive an email notification. We recommend that you check the contents of the “old-mbox” folder before you start moving things around. If you find that a folder or messages are missing please contact Hristiyan (Chris) Kourtev, so we can look into it. Once you're reasonably sure that everything is there, you can then move the folders around at will.
Moving forward we would like to encourage everyone to try out the new Zimbra server. There are a number of new features that many of the other SAS departments find useful. Some examples:
- An application like web interface that you can use from anywhere without having to install and configure a mail client on your machine. This include drag and drop support, notifications, etc. (Full documentation here: http://files.zimbra.com/website/docs/8.0/ZWC_End_User_Guide_8.0.6.pdf)
- Keyboard shortcuts to allow for common functions to be performed without the need for a mouse.
- Better mail organization capabilities than your old server. You can create folders and folders within folders as well as tag messages across folders.
- Powerful server based mail filtering for both incoming and outgoing mail so you can perform functions like auto-filing, discarding, replying-to and forwarding to both incoming and outgoing messages.
- The ability to share mail folders between users and create task accounts so multiple users can more easily share mail and answer messages to group accounts we can create like help@ruccs, undergrad@ruccs, etc.
- Calendar application that allows for calendars to be shared, free-busy time to be distributed more easily and resources (like equipment or conference rooms to be scheduled).
- The Calendar is iCal compliant so invitations can be sent between other iCal compliant systems like Google or Microsoft Exchange.
- Task management so you can create and share To-Do lists
- Contact management that includes the ability to share contacts and contact lists with others including allowing others to maintain lists for you.
- Powerful indexed search function that allows you to perform both simple and complex searches quickly.
- Much better SPAM filtering than we had before.
These are just the highlights of what our/your new mail server can do. We encourage you to explore the new system and take advantage of its features. The more people that are on the system, the more features you can take advantage of. The more users who use some other mail system the more the ability to leverage the collaborative features of the Zimbra system are diminished.
You can connect to the mail server using client software like Thunderbird or Apple Mail. Calendars can likewise be accessed using packages like Lightning and Apple iCal. Mobile devices like iPhones, iPad, Android, Windows Phones and newer Blackberry devices can also be connected to the server to fully synchronize mail, calendars, tasks and contacts. If you need assistance setting these up please contact Hristiyan (Chris) Kourtev or submit a workorder (http://sas.rutgers.edu/workorder).