With hurricane season officially starting in June, The University of Texas-Pan American has begun their preparations to ensure the safety of the UTPA community, facilities, and its student data and Web site.
According to Leota Hull, associate vice president for the Information Technology Data Center, UTPA has backed up its student information, e-mail database and main university web server at The University of Texas System's Arlington Regional Data Center (ARDC), supervised by The University of Texas at Arlington.
"Our campus e-mail system that we just upgraded, we have tested it and have it running in Arlington. If our campus e-mail system goes down, due to power failure or a hurricane, our e-mails will be running in Arlington. If you can get Internet connection anywhere you will be able to get your UTPA e-mail," Hull said.
Hull said the ARDC's geographic location is a good distance from any regional disasters, such as hurricanes, that could affect UTPA's operations.
"This is our backup and it is more than just a copy, it is the ability to run the UTPA system from Arlington," Hull said.
In addition, Hull said the UTPA Division of Information Technology has also set up an emergency Web site for the university In Arlington. The site will feature a few web pages, which are sustained on a small server at the ARDC, and will include emergency contact information. The ARDC will also allow UTPA to maintain its presence on the Internet and ability to communicate with its students, faculty, staff and general public during an emergency that may cause the system to shut down.
"We will maintain our presence on the Internet so that essentially UTPA does not disappear off of the Internet if our Web site goes down," Hull said. "We have to exist in cyberspace all the time now."
"If our Web site goes down here, then there will be messages on this emergency Web site that tell people this is what has happened, this is the progress, and this is when we will be back up and running again," Hull added.
The ARDC is one of two data centers that were created by the UT System under its Shared Services Initiative in 2006. The other data center is located in Houston, under the direction of UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and a third one will be constructed at UT Austin. The centers provide secure data backup, disaster recovery and business continuity and allow for consolidation of institutional primary data centers as appropriate.
"The regional data centers are one of those things The University of Texas System has initiated simply because of the benefits available with today's technology and trying to afford for all of the 16 campuses the technology that we need to be modern universities," Hull said.
One individual who is glad to see UTPA is ensuring all critical business systems have been duplicated is Elaine Rivera, executive director, UTPA Student Financial Services, who experienced the wrath of Hurricane Katrina, one of the nation's costliest and deadliest hurricanes, in 2005 while employed at the financial aid office at Tulane University.
Rivera said the flooding left after Hurricane Katrina caused massive destruction on the Tulane campus, and brought down all its systems.
"In the case of Tulane University, core staff had to relocate to Houston and begin the arduous task of putting up Web sites and systems where university students and staff could report their whereabouts. We also had to find ways to get the student information system and all other systems up and running to get the university working again as quickly as possible," Rivera said.
For more information about the Division of Information Technology, visit www.utpa.edu/it.
To learn more about UTPA's Hurricane Preparedness Plan, visit www.utpa.edu/ehs.