Pangea: Next Generation

Updated: April 4th, 2016

Author: Ross Madden

Categories: General CNSIT, Pangea

Pangea is evolving!  We have some exciting changes to announce with relation to the Pangea file serving service available to CNSIT South affiliates.  Over the past few years, we have been able to carefully watch how folks are utilizing Pangea.  This usage information, along with technological advances (and some handy changes in how we can use certain licenses on campus) have allowed us to rethink Pangea.

Share Updates

One of the largest changes we will be implementing is a share structure change.  Usage shows that 90% of Pangea users are opting for other means of storing personal data (data not being shared with other users).  These include Dropbox, Box, GoogleDrive, or the OneDrive for Business service that comes free with our Office 365 license.  As a result of this, we have hundreds of empty share groups that are never used.  So, we have opted not to compete with these other storage services, in terms of personal storage (we can’t come close to offering the quantity of storage they offer).  From this point forward, we will not be creating new personal storage areas on Pangea, and will instead allow Pangea to focus on what it was designed for – collaboration and sharing of active data.  We have created a document on using cloud storage for personal data, which we recommend all users read: http://wp.natsci.colostate.edu/cnsit/cloud-storage-for-personal-data

For those few users that do use Pangea for personal space, fear not!  We will keep those shares active and available on the new release of Pangea.

The remaining types of shares available on Pangea, are split into two main groups – Web Groups, and Collaborative Groups.  These two areas will be physically split between two distinct shares on Pangea named “Pangea-Web” and “Pangea-Groups” respectively.  Within each share, you will see the group folders that reflect your Pangea group memberships (and nothing else).  We also are eliminating the need to “link” these groups to personal areas, and therefore are eliminating the accidental link deletion that occurred on rare occasions.  Brilliant!

Pangea Header Server is now running Windows!?

That’s right!  Almost a decade ago, when Pangea was born, we chose to use a Linux operating system as the header server.  This choice revolved around the fact that Windows was a VERY expensive option (in terms of CAL licenses, which we would have needed one for each Pangea user).  Linux was free, and since we had the expertise to administer a Linux OS on staff – it was a financial no-brainer.  However, in the end, the group and permission system we tied into, and relied upon for CSU eID authentication and access-restriction has always been Windows.  The desire to make use of certain administration tools available on a Windows Server OS, along with the advantages associated with keeping systems that work together homogeneous has always been present.

Luckily, over the past couple of years, CSU has introduced a service that makes a Windows header server financially possible.  The Pangea header server will now run as a virtual server on the Campus Cloud.  This setup comes with an OS that is covered by a license which takes into account all user access licenses (CALs).

Shadow Copy

With a Windows Server OS now running the Pangea header, we are able to add a new layer of backup and recovery which is more convenient than ever.  Shadow Copy is now running on the Pangea shares.  While Shadow Copy should never be considered a replacement for normal backups (which we will still be doing), it does allow for an end user to restore files to “previous versions” without requiring the assistance of CNSIT staff.  We will be creating a document on how this works in the very near future.

What’s Next?

We are currently still in the testing phase, but will begin migrating groups soon.  We will be asking for volunteers to migrate first, so stay tuned for an invitation!