Why the Recent ICT Services Outtage

DICTS deliberately switched off all centrally controlled University ICT services on Monday the 29th/06/2015. This was because all the equipment (Servers, back-bone routers, switches etc.) housed at the DICTS network operation centre (NOC) had overheated due to failure of the air conditioning system at the NOC.

In fact we narrowly survived losses that would have cost the University millions in equipment, data and services. Notices on service outage, were placed on major notice boards across the University (if we had continued to operate in that state, it would have been like driving a car without breaks!!).

Why did this Happen?

Over the years, DICTS has operated without a repair and maintenance budget despite the director’s office requesting for funds annually to cover the activity. This coupled with equipment that has reached its end of life, has made repairs and maintenance of University ICT equipment very costly.

DICTS has been maintaining air conditioners and other ICT equipment in risk mode due to lack of funds and users should expect many more such occurrences that affect several university business processes unless ICT funding is prioritized.

Signing of contracts for ICT service providers has also been delayed and service providers have not been turning up to repair ICT equipment due to accumulated bills that have not been cleared by the University.

What can the University Do?

University management should start to consider ALL recommendations pertaining to ICT which is usually not the case both on operational and managerial levels. Sometimes recommendations from DICTS are not taken seriously which has implications in the due course.

Way Forward

DICTS will allow ICT services to run for a period of time and then switch them off before the maximum bearable temperature for equipment to break down is attained. Equipment will then be allowed to cool down before services are restarted.

This is because only 2 out of the required 4 ACs are currently operational. Services will also be shut down at 5pm and restored at 8am the following morning. This will continue until DICTS obtains and installs new ACs at the network operation centre.

We are glad to report that the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DGRT) has authorized DICTS to use the ICT component of the Sida budget, to buy a few ACs since there’s no money at the centre.