Service Disruption

Letter NEIU in the middle surrounded by circles representing connectivity. The Side of letters contain a broken wheel indicating disruption.
Letter NEIU in the middle surrounded by circles representing connectivity. The Side of letters contain a broken wheel indicating disruption.
Lesly Alonso

After multiple schoolwide announcements stated that NEIU’s network would undergo disruption over the span of four-and-a-half days, it turns out services were working after all. 

NEIU’s University Technology Services (UTS) made its first announcement of a network migration in an email sent out on April 08, 2024. The email explained that NEIU’s network would be shut down starting from 5 p.m. on April 12th until 5 a.m. on April 15th; students and staff would not have access to features such as Nmail, Brightspace/D2L, Workday, NEIUStar, Watermark/Faculty Success, Library Databases, Google Suite, and Adobe Creative Cloud.

The email stated that the migration was “critical,” would “further optimize & continue to secure our systems,” and result in “better user experience.” 

UTS sent out a reminder email with the same information on April 11. 

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This was followed by an “urgent action” request the day of, at 1:22 PM, from Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, R. Shayne Cofer, to “prepar[e] for the planned network outage this weekend.” The emergency network infrastructure migration was labeled as “urgently needed,” and students were advised to download any needed course materials “immediately.” Faculty were advised to download any relevant tax-related items for that upcoming Monday, as any tax-related items in Workday also would not be available during migration time.

Upon further investigation by the Independent, the migration was part of a wider effort by the university to cut down on costs. Specifically, the migration meant shifting the university’s existing on-prem server to a cloud server, as the latter offered similar features for less cost.

According to network engineer Dennis Sevilla, “it was a financial move…It was a good service. But I think we were paying more than we needed as far as features go.” To draw an analogy, Sevilla said, “we bought a mansion instead of a house that is fit for us.”

UTS and Cofer’s announcements came with a warning that the entire NEIU online network might–would–be down. Students were advised to download any required materials for class work so as to lessen the impact of a disruption that might occur.

However, according to accounts from multiple students to the Independent, there was little disruption, if any at all; they still had access to D2L and Nmail, although some students reported NEIUport being down.

Sevilla provided a possible explanation, saying  “The teams worked tirelessly during the weekend to minimize the impact it had on end users, such as students and teachers.” This was further corroborated by IT Manager and Admin Coordinator Rizvi Syed, who said, “I was touched by the camaraderie and dedication shown by [the] NEIU tech department when such an event occurred”. 

In a statement to the Independent, Cofer said, “UTS intentionally prioritized student related systems first in an attempt to restore service as quickly as possible.”

However, neither Cofer nor Chief Information Officer Eliot Rodriguez shared further details about the network migration, stating security risks as such disclosures might compromise network security. 

Nevertheless, Sevilla noted that “the transition is still ongoing – but the end users, like students, will not be affected, as we are mainly dealing with stuff on our end.”

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