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CS dept server problems

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The faculty,
Computer Science Department,
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute,
Troy NY 12180

Subject: CS dept public servers' problems and frequent downtime

Dear professors,

As you might already be aware, Computer Science department servers, including public servers like remote.cs.rpi.edu, mail servers, home-directory servers have been facing problems for a very long time. The irony is, in spite of this being Computer Science department, the important servers (heart-beat of the CS dept) are remaining offline for not hours but days or weeks together. Home directories, and hence public home-pages of many people have been inaccessible for past few weeks.

Being students of computer science, we depend on computers. Although every person has his/her own personal laptop, many of us need higher configuration machines for running our experiments, or carrying out our department duties, e.g., Teaching Assistance. Department servers' frequent downtime is causing serious bottlenecks in our work. The sad part is, as expressed by some of the senior graduate students in the department, “this is nothing new”. CS department server downtime has been an on and off issue over past few years and ultimately came to this kind of emergency.

We trust that the faculty is already aware of the problem and Prof. Carother's email (dated March 2, 2011) proves that. But what we are not sure of is: (1) how long is it going to take for getting the services back up and running – days, weeks, months? (2) how long is it going to take to get the robust long-term solution in place (e.g. IBM/NetApp storage manager)? (3) will the department provide an alternate solution during this time to keep graduate students' work moving?

We want the faculty to understand the gravity of this problem and request them to escalate and fix this ongoing issue to the soonest possible. To exemplify how students in the department are taking the brunt of continual CS servers' downtime, given below are some testimonials (and as it can be seen from the testimonials that quite a few students' research and department duties are being sacrificed due to the server downtime).

We earnestly urge the faculty to look into this issue seriously and help to get a permanent resolution of the problem as soon as possible!

Yours sincerely,
Students of Computer Science department.


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