Tech Report

Date: November 17th, 2012
To: Michael Green
From: Steve Rippl
Subject: Tech Dept. Executive Summary

We're in middle of upgrading and rearranging our virtual servers, the new one is in place and our Ganeti software is managing 3 of our 4 main host servers.  By the time we all get back after Thanksgiving we'll have had time to include the last one, it involves migrating guest machines, rebuilding the server and then distributing guest machines back.  It's been a bit of a learning process to translate how we were managing this before to the new system, but we're excited at the prospect of full redundancy on our virtual servers.

More maintenance that will take place on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is putting an extra UPS (uninterruptible power supply) into our main rack and putting network cards into the rest in there.  This will allow us a little more time on battery backup when the power goes out, and the network cards mean that if the power stays out too long we can initiate an orderly shutdown of servers before they run out of battery, thereby avoiding potential "unexpected shutdown" problems (mainly corruption of disks).  We probably won't actually get the software side of things set up until Christmas or later, but the first step is to have the hardware in place.

Cari Thomson has allocated the grant money that that she received and with a part of it we were able to purchase 30 nearly new Lenovo i5 workstations for Tim Brown's lab.  These will make excellent lab computers for him and should run his Lego and other software very well for quite a few years to come.  We hope to have all those in place for him by the time he returns from the break. 

Deb Kernen has also set aside funds for new computers for some more of her staff, that will be happening in the run up to, and into the Christmas break.  Between my efforts at refocusing on staff computers and help from departments like Deb's the overall picture of the quality of staff computers is looking much healthier than it was a year ago.

Finally, last month we got the new design templates for our website overhaul from the ESD and I think they look good!  They've been integrated into our new content management system and we've been working on transferring the board docs functionality over.  After Thanksgiving we'll put up a production version and begin to transfer actual pages over, and I'll be conferring with our Principals about what they want for each of their school's front pages.  My hope is to have it up early in the new year, although I can't commit to a firm date as it all depends on what over priorities emerge in the meantime!