GWMail makes shaky debut

Students experienced log-in delays, trouble changing passwords and problems creating e-mail accounts on GW’s new e-mail system during the first two weeks of classes because of unexpected technical difficulties and problems caused by student users, GW e-mail officials said.

I’ve switched my password like five times, junior Lisa Canarick said. I can get into Telnet, but I can’t get into my e-mail. It’s just annoying because I have a gazillion passwords in my head and I have to remember which one is which.

GW e-mail officials cited simple human mistakes as a main problem.

People have multiple passwords and multiple accounts, so a lot of times it’s just an error with the user themselves, said Josiah Wally Akinyele, an assistant at Information Systems and Services.

Since the installation of GWMail, several of the system’s drives have failed. The student server was shut down Saturday after a drive failed.

We’ve had a couple disk failures when we were bringing the system up and shutting it down Saturday, said Guy Jones, director of technology for Networking Information Technology. This is kind of a high failure rate for hard drives. Most hard drives are fairly reliable; you expect them to run for several years. I was thinking that it had been pre-checked.

Jones said the system’s response to such failures was a primary reason for the switch. The supplemental drives on the new system are set up in such a way that if one fails, the system will roll over to another one.

Because students, faculty and staff accounts run on separate drives, delays with student e-mail did not affect the faculty and staff drives, Jones said.

A mass e-mail sent from GW’s mock trial team caused another slowdown Monday. One of the group’s members sent a message to about 30,000 system users and the system overloaded when students replied to all recipients. Jones said about 200,000 to 300,000 e-mails were sent within several hours Monday.

The University implemented GWMail, an investment of over $1 million, because the old GWIS2 system was over-burdened. Installed Aug. 14, the system has a capacity of three terabytes, compared to the 700 gigabyte capacity of GWIS2 – a more than three-fold increase in memory.

GWMail is used exclusively for e-mail, and GWIS2 solely handles academic computing.

Despite the initial glitches, Jones said he is pleased with the new system.

It seems to be performing along the parameters we expected, Jones said. That is, it’s passing mail very fast. The procedure for adding users takes longer than we would like, but it is handling the traffic which is one thing GWIS2 could not.

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