Planning and preparation pays off during power outage

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) systems are like power; you don’t always notice them unless they stop working.

When the power went out at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) on October 21, 2019, ICT’s uninterrupted power supplies held strong throughout the night, and critical services for USask students, staff and faculty were not disrupted. This was not by accident.

Over the past 10 years, ICT has been making improvements to its data centres, ensuring that access to campus network infrastructure, including websites, phone services, internal systems, and connection to the internet, wouldn’t be disrupted in an event such as the recent power outage that affected the university.

“In December 2016 we moved one of our primary data centres from the Administration Building to Health Sciences,” said Glenn Hollinger, director, enterprise systems. “We were able to build in additional redundancies and backups at the new location during the design phase of the building. Facilities ensured that we had state-of-the-art backup power so that we would be prepared for anything.”

Because of ICT’s foresight and planning, the university was able to continually communicate with USask students, staff and faculty, sending 65,000 announcement emails during the outage. All USask systems were active and available for anyone who needed to access them from home. Additionally, USask’s high performance computing system and research data repository were protected.

“Data management is a big part of the role we play on campus,” said Hollinger. “It’s critical that we ensure that the data USask researchers store with us is kept safe and available in events like the power outage.”

Campus re-opened at noon on October 22, 2019, and classes, research, and work resumed without a hitch.

“It’s always nice to see your team’s hard work pay off,” said Hollinger. “We prepared for success, and that’s what we got.”

Read more: USask facilities staff restored power after lengthy outage

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