MyUSI failure leads to premature authentication system

James Vaughn

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Frustration flooded campus Wednesday morning when students and faculty realized myUSI was down, including Blackboard and Self-Service.

Students who were trying to register for classes could not, and faculty who had advising appointments had to reschedule.

Sun LDAP, the university’s main authentication system, failed late Tuesday night resulting in a 13-hour outage.

“The students were rightfully frustrated,” said Richard Toeniskoetter, executive director of Information Technology, at an IT Town Hall Friday.

The Information Technology department had been planning to switch to a new system for 24-months, and it was hoping to have completely switched over by January.

Those plans went out the window last week when they realized how serious the problem was.

“Everything got tremendously accelerated Tuesday,” he said. “Now we’re actually going to be better off.”

The department did what they would have done over the course of two months in five hours, but the hasty switch didn’t go over without any road bumps. Five systems were not working and “multiple” USI webpages needed to be authenticated.

As of Monday, Blackboard Transact, which allows students to add money to their Eagle Access cards, was down. There was no immediate fix determined for MapWorks, which was also down, but several ideas were being tossed around. Housing RMS was not working, but because contracts are not out at this time, Toeniskoetter said it isn’t too urgent.

“We are seeing very slow response times right now, as I suspect thousands of students are trying to connect concurrently,” Toeniskoetter said in an email to faculty Nov. 6.

He said it may take days or weeks before everything is configured within the new system.

“Because we have moved this forward much faster than expected, we may have overlooked certain situations,” Toeniskoetter said in the email.

He urged anyone who experiences difficulties to log them through the help desk at it@usi.edu.

The new system takes everyone to a single password.

Student’s myUSI passwords can now be used to log on to lab or library computers. Faculty’s myUSI passwords can now be used to log on to their desktop computers.

“We no longer have a network password and a myUSI password,” Toeniskoetter said during the Town Hall. “We just have a USI password.”

Old email addresses, such as @mail.usi.edu and @usieagles.org, died with the old system.

Associate Professor of Engineering Zane Mitchell attended the Town Hall. He said myUSI was taking about a minute to load once it became active again Wednesday.

Response time is now five seconds or less.

“Kudos to you and your staff for getting things back up so quickly,” Mitchell said to Toeniskoetter.

As for a future failure, Toeniskoetter said it’s possible in a number of other systems across campus, but it wouldn’t be as broad.

“Our new authentication system has three servers providing redundant authentication so we can move past a hardware failure pretty easily,” he said. “We have been replacing older, non-supported, systems with newer equipment, so even if we do have a failure, we should be in a pretty good position to get things online without lengthy downtime.”

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