Public Affairs

December 08, 2009

UA announces ACS business continuity gift worth $6. 8 million

For Immediate Release
Dec. 8, 2009

University of Alaska President Mark Hamilton and Liane Pelletier, president and chief executive officer of Alaska Communications Systems, today announced a gift that will greatly enhance the university’s disaster recovery for mission-critical online applications.

The gift, which will allow near seamless continuity of core university online functions should a major disruption occur, is worth an estimated $6.8 million.

“This generous gift from ACS allows the University of Alaska System to operate smoothly and efficiently should something happen to our Data Center here in Fairbanks,” Hamilton said. “It’s important that our 32,000 students and 8,000 faculty and staff members know that the online functions they rely on—key aspects such as payroll, accounting, student loan processing, student and human resource records management and electronic teaching tools---have backup support for as long as needed.”

The ACS gift provides UA with a backup data center for its most important online functions at ACS’ facility in Hillsboro, Ore., along with all the necessary connectivity for the university’s core systems. This will allow UA to continue online operations that would otherwise be disrupted in the wake of a major disaster or outage.

Technology staff members make backup data tapes daily and store them off-site, but if the university’s primary data center were to go off-line for an extended time period, business operations would be disrupted at great cost. With the ACS gift, these online functions will continue within 30 to 60 minutes, at no cost to the university. 

“ACS is proud to give back to the community and support the mission of the university,” said Pelletier.  “Our remote data hosting facilities are an excellent example of how ACS is bringing state-of-the art enterprise applications to Alaska, a state with a heightened exposure to natural disasters.  We are pleased to offer business continuity infrastructure for one of the state’s largest and most important institutions.”

 The gift comes at no cost to the university for five years, including maintenance at the Oregon facility.

“With the use of online technology as the dominant method of conducting the university’s business, everything from human resources to student grades, it’s essential we have a solid business continuity plan with no single point of failure,” said Steve Smith, chief information technology officer for the UA System. “This takes care of our biggest single vulnerability with our online services, and is possible thanks to our partnership with ACS.”

Mary Rutherford, president of the UA Foundation, said the company’s generosity sets a wonderful example of philanthropy. “The university’s many constituencies---our students, faculty, staff, alumni, business partners and athletics boosters---all benefit from this gift,” Rutherford said.

The gift includes the secure physical location in Hillsboro with space and connectivity for university equipment; connectivity between the university and the outside world in the event of a disaster; and  maintenance and all environmental systems required for such an off-site facility. The gift agreement extends to 2015.

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For more information, call UA Public Affairs Director Kate Ripley at 907/450-8102 or klripley@alaska.edu; or ACS Corporate Communications Director Heather Cavanaugh at 907/564-7722 or heather.cavanaugh@acsalaska.com.

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