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Transformer Overload Leads to Server Shutdowns

A transformer overload in Building W91, which houses servers and systems including the MIT Data Warehouse, led to an emergency shutdown of some computers last Thursday night.

Most of the affected systems were restored with rerouted power Friday morning, according to a press release from Information Systems & Technology. Research systems were rebooted starting at 6 a.m. Friday, while administrative systems including SAP, the MIT Student Information System, and Admissions were rebooted mid-morning, according to the press release.

SAP is used for MIT’s financial accounting, and MITSIS for student registration and academic records, financial services, academic departments, housing, and medical.

The IBM Blue Gene supercomputer, MIT’s most powerful computer, remained offline until yesterday per a request by the researchers. The Blue Gene is used to perform calculations for theoretical physics simulations.

According to the press release, the problem was discovered when IS&T personnel found an overheated transformer. Computers relying on the transformer underwent emergency shutdown. During the recovery process, as computers were being re-booted, one Data Warehouse computer experienced disk failure, so all 60 GB had to be restored.

Kelley Rivoire, Jenny Zhang