OCS long overdue for replacement

By Jimmy Longun

I remember very well last semester when I vented my frustration in The Mac Weekly about the increasing troubles of Oracle Collaboration Suite (OCS), Macalester’s current email server. I was almost sure I wouldn’t have to write another article on the same topic, but alas, I have been made to share a piece of my mind yet again.But before I mention anything, I would like to make it clear that this article does not in any way point an accusing finger at those involved with OCS. It simply serves to portray just how much damage this recent breakdown has caused.

OCS’s troubles, I think, run deeper than we are made to believe. Let’s face it: OCS as Macalester’s one and only e-mail server has been living on the edge even way before the power outage came about. There was always the feeling that it would go down at some point, more like an accident waiting to happen. And the power outage last Sunday night simply inflicted a final blow to a system that was already on its knees.

Since I do not know much about OCS’s internal workings, I will not speculate any further. But all I can say is that last Sunday’s power outage serves well as a strategic excuse.

We still don’t know when OCS will be up and running again, but based on the look of things across campus, it is hard to ponder the amount of damage already done. Faculty and staff have been outraged. Students have complained. And between faculty and students, I think students have been hit hardest.

For example, some students have missed out on jobs or internships simply because they couldn’t schedule appointments in a timely manner. The timing of the breakdown has also been harsh on those students who have been waiting to hear back from graduate schools. With the delivery system becoming increasingly precarious, it is feared that some incoming emails might in fact be lost in the system. To what extent this is true, I do not know, but all I know is this is bad news.

Whereas OCS’s breakdown has had negative effects, it has actually been a good source of excuses for students. This has especially been beneficial to students who are fond of ignoring important e-mails. These days, the answer “Sorry, OCS was down,” is a very familiar reply to many nagging questions.

I have particularly found it hard to schedule meetings with fellow students. For whatever reason someone failed to honor an appointment, OCS will often come to their rescue. Convenient, isn’t it? No doubt, it is always a good idea to turn negatives into positives, but in these particular circumstances, I think it is costly to do that.

Like everybody else, I pray that OCS gets back on its feet sooner than later. It will be hard to endure another rough week of sporadic activity, but with the current condition of OCS, one definitely cannot rule anything out.

Now as the Information Technology Services people toil hard to fix this problem, I think OCS’s time is up. It perhaps has been long overdue.