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This item originally appeared in the Jan. 22, 2004, issue of The Tech Talk.


Staff Writer

B.O.S.S., the Bulldog Online Student System, is being taken over by a Shark.

The IBM z800 Model 0A1 Enterprise Storage System, nicknamed 'Shark' because of fins across its top frame, will provide more than eight times as much disk storage space, while the tape drives will run about 30 times faster than the old mainframe system.

"Our entire current system can be backed up six times on one [new] tape cartridge," Roy Waters, computing center director, said.

The new mainframe, which controls the complete university computing system, was powered up for the first time Jan. 16.

It took a week to deliver all of the parts, which will take days to install and another five or six weeks to switch over from the old machine to the new one.

The new model has eight gigabytes of memory and is rated at 80 MIPS (millions of instructions per second), a 233-percent increase over the system being replaced, Waters said.

In all, a team of at least 30 people have played a role in this project.

"They continue to work long, hard hours over weekends and late nights setting up this new environment," Waters said.

The installation will be considered complete when the new hardware is accessed Feb. 9.

Students should notice an immediate difference as B.O.S.S. will have a quicker response time and will be accessible more hours, Waters said.

B.O.S.S. was first introduced in fall 2001 and has received both positive and negative feedback.

"But the positive has far outweighed the negative," Bob Vento, university registrar, said.

Most students say they appreciate having this type of registration system available.

"Working in the computer labs, I see the rush [to use B.O.S.S.] during registration, and I know students will be happy with improved speed," Deborah Peters, a junior architecture major, said.

Waters said the staggering load of 1,500 students attempting to register at the same time taxed the old system and presented some real challenges for the computing center staff.

Rachel May, a freshman basic and career studies major, said she cannot imagine having to register any way other than online and looks forward to the new enhanced system.

"I can't conceive how much work they do to keep this system up and running for us," May said. "There must be an unbelievable demand on the computers."

Mack Williams, manager of computer systems programming, said Tech has listened to complaints about access and response time and this new system will address those issues.

Williams said students will notice an appreciable difference by the next registration date and even more upgrades are on the way.

"We want students to have the best while operating within our budget," Williams said.

The acquisition process usually takes four months, but Waters said a team effort allowed them to complete it in just two-and-a-half months.

Waters attributes the success of the installation to the team members' combined efforts and their willingness to go the extra mile.

"We take a great deal of pride in providing the best computing services possible with the resources available," Waters said.

"There's always more to be done.

"Working in this field is like being an offensive lineman -- no one notices you very much until there's a breakdown, but that's okay with us."

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