New Hardware Supports Expanding Website


Spring 2010

The CReSIS website received a huge overhaul this past winter, but not without the help of its new strongman – the Wiggins server. CReSIS and NSF wanted to improve the site’s usability for both visitors and internal users. To do so, CReSIS tech support installed new hardware to support the changes.

The previous Stone Cracker server ran on four gigabytes of RAM with two dual core processors. In contrast, the Wiggins contains four times as much RAM and four quad-core processors.

“We wanted to make sure we had a machine that wouldn’t need updating in the future as the website grows and expands,” said Dan Hellebust, CReSIS network specialist.

The website’s development has blossomed since its launch in January. At that time, the server supported 40 megabytes of data. Just four months later, the increasing content and traffic have bolstered that number to 717 megabytes. So far, the server has operated well. Hellebust says he expect the machine to last at least three to five years.

The reworked website platform for the new website contributes largely to this increase. Hellebust runs the website through the popular open-source Drupal software, which is used by large organizations such as the White House and the National Science Foundation. Updates on the old site were managed by a few people and required hand-coding. Through Drupal, Hellebust can create a framework which then allows many other users to create the site’s content.

“Before even little edits would take a long time. It was not a quick thing. I spend more time implementing new things instead of fixing and updating the website,” he said.

Ferdouz Cochran, geography masters student, has worked with Helleburst to program parts of the site. She said that the ability for partner institutions and departments to manage their own pages provided a huge advantage for maintaining the website.

Cochran also said that the site encourages more interaction from visitors. “Before people really just came to the front page of the site. Now I feel like because of things like the rotating slideshow and quick links that people are more likely to explore within the site. It’s much more inviting,” she said.