Creative Services

Web Leadership Team Meeting Minutes

Web Leadership Team Meeting
June 3, 2013, 10 a.m.

28 members of the WLT met in the Alumni Conference Room.  New members were introduced, including Josh Boland (Creative Services Web Team), Scott Hammel (Libraries, CCIT) and Dana Morgan (Alumni). An update on web-related projects was presented:

www.clemson New Architecture project
To provide Clemson University with the robust website needed, a project has begun to resolve the issues currently being experienced during peak times of usage. While the current infrastructure has served us well for a long time, we’ve outgrown it. Attached is a document showing the current structure and one showing the short-term changes being made. The first step was taken May 31, with the successful move of the server from a physical machine to a virtual machine. This move allows additional resources to be devoted to the site should it be needed, and it aids in the ability to replicate the server in other locations. The new site has 4 times the RAM and newest CPU available.

Shibboleth and Proxies
With the implementation of the new authentication system (Shibboleth) launching this summer, and as part of the new architecture of the website, departmental sites on other servers will no longer be able to utilize proxies and convert to redirects. Currently there are over 1500 proxies being used now that allow short URLs in the current naming policy (clemson.edu/xyz) to hide the URL of the actual website that may reside at virtual.clemson.edu/groups/web/xyz without the user ever seeing this server-based URL. As the architecture changes — and the main university server is separated by other site — a new naming convention will be introduced. We will still be able to keep the short URL, but it will now redirect to the actual location. This means users will see the URL in their browsers, but we will display a friendly URL like “xyz.sites.clemson.edu.” This change will treat sites as separate virtual hosts making it simpler to convert to Shibboleth and allow more granular decisions on access to the site and information about the user. Applications using direct server addresses will need to be updated. A list of proxies is being developed to provide to RUOs to assist in identifying sites affected by this change and to help eliminate those proxies no longer needed. Those sites using container-based htaccess files will be converted first.

Making www.clemson a Mission Critical System
The University’s Website is in the process of upgrading its status to mission critical to ensure adequate resources and support in the future.

Backup Sites for www.clemson.edu
We do have a full copy of www.clemson.edu hosted in California. This site also pulls content from our MySQL 1 database on campus. Should the website and database both be unavailable, the California site does have copies of mission critical databases available for the website. Backups are done 4 times a day to California. RH11 — our on campus back up — is also available, but will eventually no longer be needed as other locations and replication of the VM are created.

Emergency Server
A new Emergency server has been created. http://emergency.clemson.edu

The new server would handle web traffic from the homepage, student gateway page and faculty-staff gateway page in the event of crisis. "Crisis" for our purposes is classified as a dire emergency (imminent danger) such as an active shooter, bombing, explosion, nuclear melt down, devastation, etc.

Messages would be posted to an off-campus site by Public Affairs officials to update the content on the emergency site. This site can be updated from an iPhone in the event computer use is not possible. Ongoing updates would be posted by Public Affairs officials, which will be charged with updating the page at regular intervals or as new information is available. The rest of www.clemson.edu will be left to function as normal.

CU-Alerts is another project underway with Public Affairs and CCIT. "Alerts" for our purposes are everything else: general safety announcements, weather notices, water mains breaking, etc. These currently post only to homepage and audience gateways on clemson.edu and do not activate emergency.clemson.edu. Use of the RAVE Alerts system to send notification to a distribution list that send text and email alert. A policy change is being discussed to direct everyone to participate in this system of notification. Currently, CU Safety alerts are being added to the CU-Safety Twitter https://twitter.com/cusafety and emailed directly to users for more information.

Faculty Profile System
A new faculty profile system has been proposed to be developed in conjunction with the upgrade to FAS. If approved, information from FAS can be used to populate branded, Google-searchable faculty profile pages. This system would improve visibility of faculty and research and provide easier access for faculty collaboration across campus.

House-Dining Website
Student Affairs launched their newly combined Housing and Dining Website in May.
http://clemson.edu/housing-dining.

Tigers on the Move
The Alumni Association is launching a new “Tigers on the Move” section for the Clemson World Online magazine. The URL will be sent by the Alumni Office to team members to help populate the content before the official launch. Clemson World Online is also being redesigned.

Footprints (Tiger Tracks)
The job tracking software used by ITHELP as well as Cascade’s database are moving out of the MySQL1 database server this summer. Removing these two huge users will improve performance for those sites utilizing this server.