Filer system to undergo changes in near future

Melanie Sayre, Contributing Reporter

When people mention “filer,” people think of cabinets. People think of a pile of messy paperwork yet to be finished. People think of a job perhaps that they’d wish (or not wish) to have. People don’t usually think of the system that gives us the option of hosting personal as well as organization webpages on the CWRU campus network.

As many members of the CWRU community are part of at least one club on campus, many students have probably visited or will visit the webpage of some club that is hosted under filer. The filer system, according to the director of Student Affairs IT Operations Joel Kraft began as a project of Student Internet Services, (SIS). Kraft explained it was “formed by a group of students wishing to fill in the gaps of IT services that were not provided by ITS, most importantly a place to host a web page.” Since then, filer has changed hands and is currently hosted and maintained by the School of Engineering. However, this could be could be changing in the near future.

For a long time now, there have been rumors concerning filer – most of which no legitimate basis. The latest rumor, concerning the complete dismantling of filer, was deemed untrue, the root just being an unfortunate series of miscommunications. The of this rumor, though, brings us to an issue that rests perhaps not on more secure grounds, but more practical ones. While no official statement about the issue has been released, in the upcoming months, there are probably going to be changes that involve the system.

The first of the rumored changes would be the ceasing of new account creation. In implementing a change like this, Kraft stated there would not be any immediate functional changes to the system. The staff and students would continue to maintain and provide support for filer.

Another of the rumors pertains to the School of Engineering detaching themselves from the filer system. While similar to the first case, here the School of Engineering would no longer provide funds for the system. These funds currently cover the hardware maintenance and administration of the over 8600 individual sites filer currently hosts. The funds would have to be drawn from an outside source., Filer is run on the open-source software called ‘vtfileman’ (and being open-source is free of re-occurring software costs). However, if monetary problems could arise that would put the system in some jeopardy. Please note, however, that these are rumors, and strictly that.

While filer will eventually be removed, it will be a gradual secession from the overall picture. According to Henry Snow, a filer administrator, the following is a probable scenario. Within the next year, there will be a date that is made where no new accounts on the server can be created. After that, the files on filer will remain for a year after the system is closed. With some simple math, filer will probably exist for another two years. Snow says that when any further developments occur, announcements will be posted on filer’s home page.

As for a replacement of the system, that’s a debatable issue. USG (Undergraduate Student Government) has been working on Collegiatelink – the possible future of club webhosting. Unfortunately, this is still a work in progress. Kraft also points to Google groups, though he mentions that there is a security debate on it that makes it less worthwhile than using the current filer system.