Archive for Saturday, May 1, 2010

KU, consultants ponder cause of Internet outage

The network's surge protector failed, but KU officials don't expect to know until next week why the backup didn't come on and allow KU e-mail and internet to operate.

May 1, 2010

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Something somehow pulled the plug on more than $8 million worth of servers and other computer hardware at Kansas University earlier this week.

And it’ll be some time before officials know how to prevent such a disconnect from occurring again.

The resulting Internet failure — campus-wide, computers were unable to log onto the Internet or send or receive e-mail for much of the day Thursday — remains under investigation by KU Information Technology, KU Facilities Operations and a team of outside consultants.

A massive surge protector had tripped, starving power from some $8 million to $10 million worth of computer servers and other equipment at the KU Computer Center.

Instead of rerouting servers to a generator or even to backup batteries, the system shut down and didn’t come back on.

“That was the opposite of what it was supposed to do,” said Jack Martin, a KU spokesman. “It shut off external power, and didn’t do anything else. It didn’t kick in. … It shut the power off — like you pulled the socket out of the wall — and caused a hard shutdown of the system.”

Martin said it would take “several days” just to run diagnostics on the UPS, shorthand for Uninterrupted Power Supply. “We need to go in and find out why it did that before we’re confident in using it, or determining if we have to replace it or repair it,” Martin said. “It’s a significant investment. It’s not something that you can go down to the hardware store and pull off the shelf.”

Thus far, he said, officials have no indication that a power spike had affected the UPS.

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