Cheerleader, Gatekeeper, Lynchpin

I remember a talk, years ago, with Marti. She noted that we used to be “cheerleaders for technology.” And now we’re gatekeepers, I noted, given how much time we were spending on anti-spam devices, filtering, acceptable use policies, and a whole gamut of control-the-flow issues.

Today, I think we’re something different. I still hear some colleagues who say “if only my teachers would check their email” or “is any of this important at all.” The funny thing is, I pretty much envy them. Being at a school with low to moderate tech integration can be frustrating in some ways, but relaxing in others. The tech isn’t mission-critical.

Mushroom CloudLast night, for example, it appeared that the gateway port in our firewall appliance had burned out. Most of the Internet connectivity was down for the school, in and out. Our public page was still up and fine, but surfing, SharePoints, Calendar, and Outlook Web Access were out.

As I studied tech notes last night and prepared for less than a great morning, I could tell that families were probably frustrated as they were unable to hit the collaborative web sites. Students and faculty couldn’t get email. This morning, how many lessons would be affected by no Internet access. How many administrative plans would be messed without email going in or out. Hmmm.

I, of course, didn’t need all the motivation of these thoughts. Why worry about 600 computers unable to hit the web, right? If anything, I wondered how much we’ve become central to so much work on campus, along with accompanying responsibility to not be the “weak link.”

Anyway, we had the problem resolved by 8:10 a.m. All was restored. We have a device down, but we’re secure, and the issue is now transparent to users. We call around, and look for a hot fall-back system for the firewall appliance. $10 to $12k for a solution, but likely worth it. We’re running out of leeway for much downtime.

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