Serving up excitement – and responsibility

The time has finally come that we will replace the server at our school – and I need to choose one. Awesome! But scary.

When I first began as the “tech teacher” nine years ago, that was really all I did. There were parent volunteers who did the network configuration and the purchasing of hardware. So much has changed in that time, including me. I followed those guys around like a puppy soaking up everything they did, whether it was crawling over a ceiling to drop an Ethernet cable or mapping a network drive. And I learned. And when those guys were no longer available due to work relocation, we picked up the services of a local tech support group. I sat with the tech through every upgrade and problem solving session. And I learned some more. It did help also to take a grad course in networking. So now I am the network admin, and I have chosen switches and wireless routers, laptops and PCs, projectors and software. I control the content filtering and have to trouble shoot with the service provider whenever our network is down, thankfully a rare occurrence.

But now, after I guess about 7 years, our old Compaq is still running fine but just can’t store what we are dishing out. At the time they chose this server 34 GB was a big hard drive. Do I hear laughter? Well, it was! But this year as we were completing our video projects and podcasts, saving edited versions, or in the case of some students saving 12 versions (Save, not Save As!!) we actually were out of space. I scrambled to delete whatever I could to squeeze the projects on, moving all kinds of things, but especially photos and videos, to an external 250GB Seagate I had luckily purchased a year before.

Our tech support company says, better to get one now rather than wait till the current server dies. I can’t imagine having a dead server. How would we function anymore without our network, our Internet access? So I have begun the search, and will get recommendations from them, but the responsibility weighs heavily on me. We will all have to live with the decision for a number of years. It needs to be a good one.

A tech savvy friend whose expertise I admire asked if I would be going with Linux. I have heard great things about Linux but I have zero experience with it. Is there too much of a learning curve? I have no idea. I will likely fall back on Windows (the devil I know rather than the devil I don’t know). So much work will be involved even after the purchase is made. Migrating the softwared apps, rewriting log on scripts, setting permissions, enrolling all the users, mapping new drives….yikes. I was going to try to spend LESS time at school this summer. Maybe the 34GB Compaq can go another year?

And when the teachers come back at the end of August will they have any idea what went on behind the scenes, and why they can still logon as before as if nothing major occurred? If I do this right, maybe they won’t have a clue. Wish me luck!