Technical duties a 24/7 profession

The work of Computer Services is often overlooked and even unheard of, but it keeps Temple’s vital systems running.

When students plop down in front of computers, log on to OWLnet to register for classes, access MyBackpack or just search Temple-affiliated Web sites, they expect a pleasant online experience.

Temple employees like Ray Lauff, executive director and IT specialist, make sure these Web features are available and the necessary hardware is running accordingly.

Most people don’t know about all the work that goes into keeping Temple’s campus-wide technology services up and running.

“I don’t think people realize how many employees are really involved,” Lauff said. “There are over 200 fulltime employees involved in Computer Services.”

Lauff works in the infrastructure, operations and security department within Computer Services. He, along with the others in his group, is responsible for many background technical aspects.

“We are responsible for knowing that online applications like OWLnet are indeed running and there are no issues with it. Although we do not run it directly, we notify the respective department should there be a problem,” Lauff said. “Other than that, we make sure the physical hardware is operating properly.”

The worst part of the job for Lauff is that he must be on call constantly, should anything go awry.

“One time, I was sitting and eating dinner with my mother on Mother’s Day, and all of sudden, I get a call telling me there’s an issue, and I have got to get in here.”

Computer Services personnel developed the Active Directory Service, the system on campus computers that prompts students to authenticate their accounts by plugging in their AccessNet usernames and TUsecure passwords.

“In the past, you’d have credentials to log in to each building separately. It was really a pain, especially for those people creating the applications,” Lauff said. “You would have to keep track of 30 different passwords and usernames.”

Much like this effort to make the university’s technology more user-friendly, Lauff has been involved in several other advancements throughout his 20-year career at Temple.

“It could be said that I brought up the original public e-mail system for Temple,” he said.

Under Lauff are three students, one of whom is Mathew Currier, a senior computer science major.
Currier is responsible for writing the code for the online version of MyBackpack, as well as maintaining and updating it.

MyBackpack is one of the programs that rely on the internetwork operating system to maintain stored information onto tapes nightly, and because of this, both students and faculty are able to retrieve information that has been lost for up to three months.

This proactive attitude extends to the most important servers and systems at the university, as the job also falls on IOS to ensure students’ online security.

“We are the ones that have to back up Temple’s key systems. I’d say out of the 300 systems, there are about 30 to 50 that have to be backed up nightly,” Lauff said. “Those are the systems that are critical to the university. We can’t play any games with those because they have to be solid and reliable. We have to know that they can be recovered.”

Without the Temple employees like Lauff and the rest of his group, much of what is currently available would not be.

“Temple is a great place to work. They let me stay technical while advancing,” Lauff said. “I love all of the things I get to do here.”

John A. Dailey can be reached at

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