OCC to get technology upgrade

After a power failure that crippled Orange Coast College's computer system over the winter break, the college is upgrading years-old technology using millions of dollars in bond money.

OCC will spend slightly less than $1 million on classroom technology and infrastructure to replace equipment that administrators say is 7 to 8 years old, with $420,000 of that designated for servers and software.

The campus will also buy more than 1,000 computers for an additional $1.5 million.

The Coast Community College District board of trustees unanimously approved the purchases Wednesday night.

Administrators say the outdated computer system has been neglected because of belt-tightening and that an upgrade is much needed.

In December, there was a "perfect storm" of aging technology, furlough days and a power outage that damaged the school's system, said Rich Pagel, OCC's vice president of administrative services.

"It was painful," he said.

A short-term backup system kicked in to power servers during the mid-month outage, but it only lasted for an hour before it too shut down.

Damage to the servers likely could have been avoided if there were technicians on campus to handle the issue, but staff was furloughed that day because of budget cuts, Pagel said.

Instead, OCC employees had to work through the holiday break to install new hardware and repair the system before students returned Jan. 2.

"They had to rebuild the servers because there was a hard crash when the power went off," Pagel said. "When you're bringing the system down without proper shutdowns and an automatic power outage, the systems don't do very well."

Teachers had to use off-site servers to manage classes during December, but there was little effect on students, campus officials said.

"Thankfully it was during winter break and we didn't have classes going on," Martha Parham, the district's spokeswoman said.

The funds will also be used to increase wireless coverage across campus and build some redundancy into the system, according to board documents.

All the money approved comes from Measure C and Measure M funds.

The initiatives were approved by voters in November 2002 and November 2012, respectively. They allow the college district to borrow a total of more than $1 billion through bond sales.

The new technology could be installed as soon as summer, Pagel said.


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