MESA: Coming Soon to Mason Desktops

Posted: August 3, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Robin Herron

Beginning this fall, offices and departments at George Mason will begin migrating to a new network computer file system that will replace the current Novell system. Pluses of the changeover include easier file sharing within the university as well as externally, and remote access to centrally stored files from home or other off-campus location, according to Bob Nakles, director of the Information Technology Project Office.

Mason Enterprise Services Architecture, or MESA, is the umbrella under which the new system falls. The system will provide networked file and print services that will be accessible on Windows XP, Macintosh OS X, and Linux/Unix operating systems.

The file services will use the Andrew File System (AFS), an open source product. A major advantage of AFS is that it will allow users to share files worldwide—a necessity for Mason as it opens a new campus in the United Arab Emirates, and a plus for scholars and researchers who work globally as well.

Another major advantage of MESA is improved security, since the system will automatically “push” antivirus and critical security updates out to desktops in the network. A further security aspect for all desktops is more reliable file storage. Users will be encouraged to save files on the MESA system, which is backed up daily, rather than on individual hard drives. And file storage capacity will be increased to about one gigabyte per staff member.

MESA will also offer better central management of desktops, since the Information Technology Unit (ITU) will be able to assist with an individual user’s desktop remotely with the user’s permission. Some computer problems may even be resolved by a technician “virtually.”

Finally, software licensed by the university can also be sent automatically to desktops in the network.

Nakles says the migration will begin slowly with a few small offices so that any bugs or problems can be ironed out. ITU will also be sensitive to departments’ busy times and work priorities. “We want to make it as simple as possible for the user,” he says, adding that the full migration will take at least a year.

Tech coordinators in each department have already received surveys from the MESA Migration Team to gather data about the departments’ use of the university network services and help determine the order in which departments will migrate.

For more information on the overall process, see the web site or contact Nakles at or 703-993-2975.

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