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Servers and e-mail back up after fire at OLLU (May 9)

Heroic efforts result in no damage to core equipment

New Server RoomJust more than 48 hours after a fire damaged the building that held Our Lady of the Lake University’s e-mail servers, electronic communication has been restored to the campus. Heroic actions on the night of the fire and continuous work through the last two nights put the University back online with e-mail being restored at 10 p.m. Thursday evening.

With the fire raging three stories above their heads, IT staff members moved through the server room powering down equipment and covering machines to prevent damage. “We went into the Main Building with fire fighters and grabbed all of our core servers and we wrapped the others that we couldn’t retrieve with heavy-duty tarp,” said Genevieve Limón, coordinator of operations and technology support for the OLLU Office of Admissions.

In the early hours of Wednesday morning, IT staff members entered the Main Building, Room 104 again and retrieved all the server equipment. They immediately began setting up a new server room in the University’s Library, located on the east side of the campus.

“We really didn’t have time to be scared. We had a plan and a purpose, and we went in there to do just that,” said Julian Jimenez, OLLU network engineer, who has worked at the university for seven years. OLLU’s IT staff was in contact with Rackspace immediately afterward to coordinate efforts to get the servers evaluated for any damage The equipment was taken to Rackspace’s downtown offices, and more than 10 of the company’s staff members worked with OLLU throughout the day. Other non-essential have not been assessed yet but that process will be undertaken by OLLU’s own technology team at a later date.

All essential information, including student academic records and business-related data are routinely backed up and tapes are stored offsite. However, if the more than 50 servers and equipment where this information is housed had been damaged, the cost would have been significant, and it would have taken the university much longer to restore said Dave Lytle, Director of Network/Telecom for the University.

CDI Technology Services have also been on campus since the fire to help restore fiberoptic cables that were damaged and providing power in the new facilities in the Library. In addition, AT&T and Time Warner Telecom have restored all of their equipment and circuits.

The University was back to normal business operations by Thursday, with only one day of class being cancelled. Fire officials announced on Thursday that arson was ruled out as the cause of the fire to the Main Building. San Antonio Deputy Fire Chief Rodney Hitzfelder said that the cause was more than likely an electrical shortage in the attic of the Main Building.

Photo: Dave Lytle, director of Network/Telcon, and Julian Jimenez, structural enginner, work on server equipment in new facilities located in the library.