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Hogan's unsung heroes: the Operations Group

Mike Hogan
Mike Hogan, Computing Services Manager of Operations  (photo by Jay Collier)
The Operations Group
The Operations Group, clockwise from top: Jim Cardente, Senior Computing Coordinator; Scott Gaudette, Computing Coordinator; Toni Morse, Senior Computing Coordinator; Rob Crossett, Computing Coordinator (photo by Jay Collier)

Not many people on campus will ever see the servers in the Kiewit machine room, although there are more than 200 of them, running 24/7. Not many people even think about the servers, how they store and enable access to the data that keeps Dartmouth running. No one thinks about these machines, that is, until there's trouble.

"If the servers stop running or if they have problems, someone needs to recognize that there is a problem," said Mike Hogan, Computing Services Manager of Operations. "It's my staff who basically are the ears and the eyes, who look for that to happen. They're also the hands. Data has to be transferred between computers and that's not always electronic."

Hogan and his crew of four operators are the invisible line of defense on Dartmouth's Computing Services team. These unsung heroes not only maintain the physical security of the College's central computer systems, they also manage disk drives; create and store magnetic tapes; maintain public printing stations around campus, such as the GreenPrint Release Stations; and calm users' frazzled nerves when a device, such as a BlitzMail server, goes down.

It's a tall order for such a small team, but the Operations Group is constantly searching for and implementing ever more efficient solutions to Dartmouth's data-transfer needs. In the past, for example, the College's computing systems had to be shut down for several hours every night to back up all information generated by Dartmouth users. Now the group runs back-ups around the clock, thanks to Net BackUp, a sophisticated system they put in place that controls several robots containing multiple gigabytes of data. Another example: the Operations Group converted the campus to the GreenPrint system, which changed the approach to students' printing requests, thus reducing paper waste and realizing an estimated 40 percent cost savings for the College.

"We are behind the scenes, almost invisible, in a way," noted Hogan. "At the same time, we're at the center. I see it as sort of like a bicycle wheel. There are spokes all coming from the center; everything comes to the center and everything goes out from the center. And the center is exactly where the operations group is."

By ANITA WARREN

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Last Updated: 12/17/08