Northwestern has experienced not one, but two straight weeks of email issues the past couples weeks. What seemed like a quick fix became an even bigger issue the second time around.
Teachers and faculty all over campus did not have the ability to communicate with their students through email for a whole week. In a way, this may have favored the students because it will give them an excuse not to turn in homework.
The first problem occurred two weeks ago on September 18, when a hard drive and server for employee emails shutdown leading to corrupted files. Steve Valencia, Associate Vice President of Student Relations, said that after consulting with Microsoft and experts at One-Net, they began to look for a solution to the issue and have it fixed by the end of the weekend on Sunday, September 24. The following Monday the emails will back to working again.
This past week another email problem occurred, leaning more towards a database problem, but is similar to the problem the week before, Valencia said. 50 percent of the employee’s emails stopped working again. Any newer employees that were hired since 2015 make up the other 50 percent with emails that have no issues, because they are on a different server. “We have been looking at ideas to find repairs to this,” Valencia said, “our long-term solution is to switch to a cloud based system such as Office 365.”
Student emails are operational since they run on different servers than that of the faculty. Communication will be an issue for maybe the next week, but faculty can use blackboard to communicate anything if necessary. Emails that were sent to any of the faculty may have been lost in the shuffle, which makes it hard to know if they had received any important, priority emails during the span.
The IT department on campus has been working nights and weekends to find a quick solution while the switchover to Office 365 is still a work in progress. Switching over will not be something that can be done overnight and will take a while to do Valencia said. “There is no blame, sometimes hardware just fails, and we working now towards long-term fix,” Valencia said.