Marauder mail fails students: Students suffer from withdrawal

On Friday, January 29 students noticed something about their email- they were unable to access it. Marauder Mail was down nearly five days, totaling 100 hours of downtime.

At first, most students were understanding because of the weekend timing of the outage. As Monday rolled around, however, students began to become frustrated.

Sophomore Lauren Bollinger said, “I can see a day or half of a day, but to last all weekend and into the beginning of the week is frustrating and unnecessary.”

Director of Technical Support Services, Veronica Longenecker, explained that the issue was regarding a hardware failure.

Hardware failed, but the backup for the mail server did not operate as expected, “failover did not go as configured,” she said.

This outage required the vendor of the hardware, Sun Microsystems, to be contacted. However, the University’s contract with Sun only allows help Monday through Friday, according to Longenecker.

The student reaction to the issue was varied, from mild to hostile to comical.

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As a reporter, I knew this would be a pressing issue if the outage continued and, as an experiment, created a group on Facebook titled “The Great Marauder Mail Outage of 2010.”

I knew that the Help Desk would be inundated with calls, and I wanted to see reactions directly, and possibility divert some of the calls from the Help Desk to the group’s wall.

“I don’t just use it for things related to school,” Bollinger said. “I use my Marauder Mail for everything.”

“Students have every right to feel frustrated about it and we totally understand their frustration,” Longenecker said. When I spoke with her Tuesday afternoon, the team in charge of fixing the issue had begun work on building a new server to use if the hardware issue of the old system had not been resolved. When asked if an outage nearing 96 hours is acceptable, she said, “Ideally, no.”

Information Technology has been very keen to make sure that no email is lost during the event, understanding that students not only have academic things to do but also are waiting for responses from internships and jobs. “We wanted to guarantee emails weren’t lost, which is why it has been taking longer [to restore service]”

Junior Ben McCue did not feel too affected by the outage. “Professors give me homework in class,” he said, “I only check my email once every few days.”

In speaking with Longenecker, I learned that IT was not expecting to still be using the current system, which is showing its age.

Student email was expected to be outsourced to another company, such as Google (Google Apps) or Microsoft (Live Mail), but delays in bidding for the State System has caused a potential switch to be delayed as well. “Proposals from companies are due in the beginning of February,” Longenecker said.

As far as students who use external services such as Gmail to retrieve email goes, Longenecker said that while IT does not encourage it, they don’t block it.

“We don’t recommend it because it’s hard to support so many different services, but we don’t block it.”

  • William Killian

    “The Great Marauder Mail Outage of 2010.”

    An experiment that not only promoted complaints to the help desk, but also personal attacks towards people providing real information that others criticized. Way to go Joe! Your “replacement” of the complaints with my Facebook profile was a direct attack towards me; however, since this group was “sponsored” by The Snapper, shouldn’t I get a formal apology? Not like it matters. All the reporter cares about is aquiring news. I also know that Joe stopped by the SafetyNET Help Desk only to find that no one was providing him with information. Pity, though he never deserved an interview with Mrs. Longenecker. Not for the way that he allowed direct attacks towards the IT department.

    • Joe Moore

      The Snapper is the student newspaper of Millersville University. As a reporter, I do look to acquire information- that’s kinda my job.

      As far as the activity of the group, I was not the babysitter, just the creator. Your attacks towards myself and other members of the group were way out of line and inappropriate for the tone of the group. Your hanging up on your call to me, your email address provided with this comment and your retraction of everything from the group is evidence that you are not mature enough to handle this situation.

      Thanks for your comment and readership!

  • kgundel
  • William Killian

    All you care about is your job; you don’t care about the repercussions of being inconsiderate. The creator of a group has a natural responsibility of moderating it. If you know how web development works (you have it listed as an interest on your facebook profile), you would know that the developer has natural responsibility over the site’s content. Groups don’t have a specified “tone.” The content is defined by it’s contributors. If you intended it to be a place to express concern or anger, that’s fine, but you never specified it anywhere.

    “I knew that the Help Desk would be inundated with calls, and I wanted to see reactions directly, and possibility divert some of the calls from the Help Desk to the group’s wall.”

    If anything you redirected calls to the help desk by listing the number in the group. Lying isn’t appropriate, especially for a publication. As an editor, you need to maintain professionalism that maintains high integrity. This became a personal issue when you posted my profile on the group. Maybe you should think next time and not state that it was an “experiment” to see if it would auto-hyperlink a URL.I know that I cannot trust The Snapper anymore as a reliable means of student-provided news. especially with you as the editor-in-chief.

  • optimus alumni

    Why not do something you’re good at like trying to predict the weather? How someone like you ever got a lead spot in a newspaper is beyond me. Let that spot up to the comm majors, oh wait all the comm majors are too busy with MUTV as well as internships at real places. It’s a shame that your lack of knowledge and professionalism has negatively impacted the school newspaper. Bashing the IT department does nothing for your credibility and your investigation is something that should be featured on True Hollywood Stories. Please just stop insulting real journalists

  • Always Watching

    tl;dr

    biased opinions are biased