Carmen Cleanup: Why, Why Now, & What's in it for You
In the age of cloud computing and seemingly limitless file storage, we don’t consider digital hygiene as often as we used to. Think about it: when’s the last time Facebook told you to cool it on the video uploads? We’re taking the time to invest in cleaning up our systems such as Carmen for your security, for fiscal responsibility, and for leaner, meaner performance.
Using Resources Responsibly
When it comes to hosting course content, we work to find the right balance between providing robust support and ensuring proper cleanup practices. Unlike Gmail, our program doesn’t benefit from ad revenues, so we try to be thoughtful about how to spend university funds. When storage starts getting full, freeing up space in the system for valuable content is much preferred over spending money to accommodate duplicated courses and files.
Maintaining High Performance
There’s another benefit to a regular system cleanup: performance. Today’s systems are able to do more work, and solve more sophisticated problems relatively quickly. The human attention span isn’t going to get longer because our technology is working through tougher inquiries. To continue meeting expectations of page load times and processing waits, we need to keep our system lean. Regular updates and scheduled maintenance, including removing older course copies, help us keep the system running at its best.
Data policies reinforce the importance of our digital maintenance. Holding onto extraneous student data puts us at an elevated risk of FERPA violations. Less old course material in our database means less liability for the university and more privacy for students.
Precision in Data Cleanup
Carmen stores a lot of data. Terabytes of file data, to be precise (the equivalent of thousands of billions of individual characters). The Carmen database contains more than 1000 tables of data (e.g. user information, enrollment records, quiz questions, scores, activity data, etc.) containing hundreds of millions of records with interdependencies. Programs that remove any portion of this information must be designed to operate with surgical care. They must target only the information we need to remove--no more, no less.
Timing is Everything
Finally, the removal process must not interfere with the smooth day-to-day operation of Carmen for our active users. Some of you may remember when the campus converted from a quarter system to a semester system. Imagine running this removal process at that time, or during major changes and upgrades to the Student Information System (from which Carmen derives its course and enrollment information).
We always need to consider matters of timing, along with the availability of vendor-supplied and tested removal tools that change with each major upgrade. Because of these considerations, we've not been able to clean up old Carmen courses for several years. Finally, we are now able to perform this essential task in a safe and non-disruptive way.
In the end, it takes a village to maintain data appropriately across the university, and we appreciate the cooperation and collaboration end users have shown all along the way.
If you have remaining questions about Carmen maintenance, email Carmen@osu.edu.