Google Apps @ UA

Annual Fire Alarm Safety Test

Although the following information is for a specific event, it is recommended to set your Google-side password in the event of an unplanned outage.

On May 19th there are planned outages due to the annual Fire Alarm Safety Test ( FAST). This annual 12 hour exercise takes most Technology Services services offline while fire systems are tested. This year, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) is once again using an alternate login to access your Google Apps @ UA email account during this outage. All you need to do is set up a Google-side password before the exercise commences. This password is different from the one you use to access Google Apps with an Internet browser such as Internet Explorer or Firefox.  Read on for more information.

What is the FAST?

Every year, the Office of Information Technology participates in an 12 hour exercise called the Fire Alarm Safety Test. During this exercise, emergency shutdown tests are conducted for most services hosted in OIT's facility. That means that a majority of hosted services will be offline for a period of time while maintenance and tests are conducted. Historically, this event has included disabling access to Statewide and UAF email services. Starting last year, OIT adopted this method as an alternative for planned events such as FAST, as well as other emergencies that result in system failure.

What is different?

Once again this year, you will be able to access your Google Apps @ UA email when OIT activates a new alternate login page. Shortly before the outage begins, OIT will change the functionality of the Google Apps @ UA login page to redirect to a Google-hosted page, allowing you to log in using your UA Username, and Google-side password. This new alternate login will only be activated in case of outages. The FAST exercise will be the first time this has been available.

What is my Google-side password?

It is a password associated with your account that is stored at Google. It is independent of your UA centralized password that you use to access UAF Blackboard, Roxen, EDIR, and Google Apps @ UA.

What is it used for?

Until now, the Google-side password has only been used to configure desktop email clients (Outlook and Thunderbird), mobile phone email clients, and applications that use your Google account, like Google talk.

What is different about the Google-side password now?

Due to the impacts of other power outages, we've developed this Google-side login as an alternate when UA central authentication is unavailable. Now, in the event of an outage, the Google Apps @ UA page can be reconfigured to use the Google-side password. That means the UA community will be able to access their Google Apps @ UA accounts and continue to communicate provided the network and access to the Internet is still available.

What do I need to remember for this FAST exercise?

Prior to Sunday May 19th, you need to set your Google-side password. It is not possible to set the Google-side password once the UA central authentication is offline. Please take a moment to set your Google-side password now (http://www.alaska.edu/google/password-change/).

During the FAST or other outage, go to (webmail.alaska.edu) to use the alternate login method with your Google-side password. This only works when the alternate login is activated during an outage.  When OIT systems are offline, messages to individuals will still work as normal, although listservs and other distribution lists may experience delays. During normal times, you cannot login with your Google-side password.

Those that check their email via a 3rd party client (Mac Mail, Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.) will not be affected by this outage.

How can I stay informed?

You can follow our Twitter feed by visiting http://twitter.com/oitsupport or if you have an account, follow @oitsupport during an outage. For details on the FAST planned outage, you can visit the outage details.

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If you have any questions, please contact the OIT Support Center at (907) 450-8300, toll free at (800) 478-8226, or via email at helpdesk@alaska.edu.

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