Guest Blogger: Peter Weyandt, Sr. Manager of Hosting and IT
I recently vacationed for a week on Hatteras Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Quiet evening walks, long morning runs, coupled with daytime fun in the surf and sand occupied the bulk of my week. Before I knew it, the arduous drive home was staring me in the face. Each year at the end of my vacation I think to myself, "That was too fast! How can this be over already?" It never ceases to amaze me how fast time moves when you are busy doing things you enjoy.
And so it was with the close of the 2013 calendar. Our Hosting Operations team had just completed an almost perfect start of school. The satisfaction of our recent accomplishment was starting to fade. The planning for the year ahead was surfacing on the horizon like a summer sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.
In the late fall, I found myself sitting with my technology management colleagues to plan our 2014 objectives. I was pleased to be joined by newly promoted Hosting Architect, Cliff Moten. We were cognizant that a large number of improvements were needed to replicate and improve on our successful 2013 start of school. And, we were up for the task! In fairly short order, we amassed a list of four large projects that would position us for an even better start of school in 2014. Here's a disclaimer - this is written in tech speak:
- Total redesign and implementation of our database environment. This will be an enormous task. Technology gains over the past few years will allow us to move from physical SQL clusters connected with fibre channel to virtual SQL clusters backed by pods of physical hosts.
- Add new physical servers to our Web hosting clusters we built last year. This will give us N+2 redundancy. This is the ability to drop two physical hosts in a physical pod and still be able to have our virtual clusters deliver Web pages. For our Schoolwires Hosting Operations team, N+2 = peace of mind. For our K-12 school districts, it means fast delivery of their Web content even during high volume times, like the start of school.
- Network modification in one of our hosting centers. This will improve our speed of delivering content.
- Redesign of our mail servers. This will provide needed performance improvements and stability for our e-Alert system.
Needless to say, the implementation of these projects took a herculean effort on the part of our Hosting Operations Team. It was a common sight over the past seven months to walk into our area and see Michael Struble, my top Hosting Engineer, and Cliff Moten looking like they were in the middle of a battle that seemed to have no end. My hat is off and I take a deep bow to Mike and Cliff for completing these projects on time. We recently had a small sample of the fruits of their labor when conducting pre-start of school load testing of our hosting environment. All systems passed with room to spare!
We are highly confident that our hosting environment is set for another successful start of school for our clients. We should not only see 100% website uptime again, but more consistent website performance as well. Even this week, we are already seeing the start of school traffic build. While we are not yet at the peak, we see the wave building and know the crest is soon to come. All signs point to exceeding the results we saw in 2013.
Once we are through with start of school, I need to talk Mike and Cliff into taking a well-deserved week long vacation. In fact, with what we've put together for our clients this year, maybe two weeks is in order!
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