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Central systems upgraded for better speed, service

by Dan Burrows

Staff were busy this summer upgrading and replacing some key central system services. In general, most systems were upgraded to the latest releases, the e-mail system was replaced, we installed an NT server and learned about this technology, and we are in the process of improving response time by clustering several high performance systems together.

Upgraded Solaris systems

Our Solaris systems were all upgraded this summer to a recent release of the SunOS operating system. This upgrade should be transparent to our customer base, as the changes were primarily fixes for security and stability. We are still working to upgrade the research client Sun systems that use our file service. We hope to complete this during the early part of fall quarter. Most of the SGI systems were also upgraded to a current release of their operating system.

Upgraded e-mail system

We upgraded the mail distribution system to a dual cpu system this summer. Last academic year we regularly delivered about 35,000 pieces of e-mail a day (interestingly, this is roughly the same as the number of UMD phone calls per day). The mail server was sometimes unresponsive due to large clusters of mailings, such as many people sending e-mail to a large list of aliases at the same time. We believe that a two cpu system will be better able to handle this load and plan to monitor this system closely during the first few weeks of the quarter.

Windows NT services

We are experimenting with NT services in two directions. First, we installed a WINS and NT file server on our ub system. If this works well, it will allow easy access from Win95 computers to direct storage on ub. This would include, for example, directly editing your web pages on ub via your PC using any of the web page editing programs. We could also use ub for file storage and network printing. Since this is still experimental, watch for later announcements about the availability of this service.

Second, we installed an NT server this summer to support a new printing service for the Web labs. Our experience on this NT server will help us establish other NT services later fall quarter. This might include an NT web server, for example, with the development and data base tools that are common on this type of system.

Shared cpu service

During fall quarter we will also be merging the use of the central systems called bulldog and compute and the old e-mail system to form a shared cpu service. Customers who connect to bulldog or compute will see an improved service in two ways: first, bulldog customers will be able to use most of the software that is on ub; second, they will automatically be connected to the least loaded server. This should improve response time for customers using such things as pine for e-mail usage. [an error occurred while processing this directive]
Last Revised on 09/18/97 sab [an error occurred while processing this directive]