Inclement Weather - Power & Internet Outages
How can this affect staff working remotely?
A power outage on campus tends to impact us because 1) most of our network switches located in buildings, do not have back-up power. Therefore, the building loses network connectivity - wired and wireless connection between your device and resources like the internet. 2) in our current remote status, approximately 347 users are using their office computers as remote desktops. Most office computers do not have back-up power. Once power is restored, many computers automatically cycle back on. Many older computers do not. If the power is bumpy, instead of just out completely, many computers experience hard shut-downs between multiple cycles causing them to not recover and stay off. In those cases, they must be manually restarted.
Access to Evergreen computing services during a power outage
Fortunately, the Library building has a commercial power generator that turns on as soon as the power goes out. Our data center, as well as many areas in the library have emergency power from this generator. The data center also has uninterruptible power supplies that smooth out the power bumps and prevents the servers and network equipment from shutting down during a power outage. Because of this, most of our systems will remain available through most power outages. That is not 100% guaranteed (like in a severe regional catastrophic earthquake), but probably 95% of the time during common winter storms lasting less than 2 weeks.
The other component affecting access to systems is our internet connection. We use the state of Washington K-20 network, as do most public higher ed institutions and school districts throughout the state. We have no control over the availability of that network, which runs over Comcast circuits. So, if K-20 is down, chances are Comcast is too and many other people across the state. However, as long as we have internet connection, you should be able to access most of our systems from off-campus.
The third issue affecting connectivity is your personal computing environment. You need to have a computer, power and internet connection at your location to access Evergreen systems. A laptop with a battery or a computer with a battery power supply will give you a few hours of connection, provided you have an available internet connection – local service provider or cellular.
Evergreen computing services most likely to be available during an extended power outage
Our strategic direction since 2014 has been to adopt a “cloud-first” approach to software application hosting. This has led to many of our mission critical systems being hosted by our vendors and accessible via the internet. This means that if you have a computer, power and internet, you can access them from any location. They are unaffected by campus power outages or inclement weather on the Olympia campus. They are, rarely, subject to service outages that may prevent your access, but most have contractual requirements to provide better than 90% availability 24 hours every day. During an outage, you should be able to access:
- www.evergreen.edu, our main public website, will provide campus status and instructions during inclement weather.
- Office.com provides access to all of your productivity tools – Outlook (email), OneDrive, Word, Excel, Teams, etc. – and MyWorkstation and MyRemoteApps. MyWorkstation is used to remotely access your office computer. MyRemoteApps is used to access a virtual desktop (more broadly available in November 2020). Both provide access to Banner and adminweb.evergreen.edu. Banner is our campus administrative system. Adminweb is the portal to Evergreen’s administrative applications and reports. Access to these resources is restricted to authorized users only.
- my.evergreen.edu provides access to all staff, faculty and student resources – My Files, Time & Leave, Hiring, Canvas, your user profile for password resets, Online Academic Records, Registration and student services, etc.
- Canvas.com is our teaching and learning platform and is vendor hosted for remote access.
- Zoom.com provides our video conferencing.
- Adobe.com provides Creative Cloud and Acrobat Pro for creation and editing.
- And many other specialized systems used by various offices for specific administrative functions.
Supervisors and staff need to plan ahead of inclement weather and power outages. Determine what work you can and cannot perform if the power is out at your home. Identify and prepare low-tech and no-tech tasks that you can accomplish during outages. Or agree to other alternatives, like taking leave.