An inside look at UST’s Central Systems
From Information Resources and Technologies
Have you ever wondered where your e-mail comes from? Or how those ever-present Blackboard courses automatically pop into your MyUST Courses tab?
Day in and day out, Information Resources and Technologies (IRT) maintains a fleet of 250 servers that connect to 40Tb of storage to provide you with the technology you use every day. To give some context, a new Dell or Apple computer comes with, on average, a 100Gb hard drive. It would take 10 personal computers to equal 1 Terabyte of storage. The enterprise storage IRT employs is about two to three times faster then commodity "personal computer" storage.
Two hundred and fifty servers also require a pretty massive backup infrastructure. We maintain multiple types of backups, but the long-term option is to backup to a magnetic tape drive. This tape storage is updated on a rotating cycle, where we keep some on-site and also at an off-site location in case of catastrophic failure in our data center, fire or other unforeseen catastrophes.
IRT strives to maintain an up-time of 99.999 percent, otherwise known as "the five nines," for mission-critical systems. This means in a 24-hour day, all our critical systems are online and available an average of 23.99 hours in the day. The term "uptime" is used to describe the percentage of time the server fleet has been online and available. Yes, we keep them up and running for night owls and for early morning larks!
We have servers that perform a myriad of functions, some that you may know about, others that support administrative functions you may never have heard of. Listed here are a few of these functions:
- The exchange servers host all the student, staff and faculty e-mail. Our e-mail systems are responsible for processing over 1,000,000 e-mails every day!
- Take that number listed above and guess what percent of these e-mails are not SPAM. … you'd be amazed at the ever rising number of SPAM UST users receive every day. Our systems identifies between 70 to 80 percent of all e-mail we process as SPAM. IRT has implemented systems to not only minimize the number of SPAM you receive through our MailMarshal servers, but we also maintain systems that check every incoming and outgoing e-mail for viruses.
Clearly, there is a lot going on behind the scenes in IRT! We work diligently to ensure that you have the help you need to succeed in providing a world-class learning experience for our students!
If you have questions about any of the systems IRT maintains, call the Tech Desk, (651) 962-6230, or e-mail us.