The MSB Technology Center was established in the late 1980s. At the time MSB was called the Georgetown School of Business and the Tech Center was GSBTC. The Tech Center consisted of three full time staff and no students. It was tasked with providing IT services, mostly printing, to MSB faculty and staff and database services to the GSB MBA program which was so new they did not have a system to electronically maintain student records. The Tech Center was originally located in the basement of Old North, which was then the home of the Georgetown School of Business.
As the School grew so did GSBTC. At the time many students did not have personal or portable PCs, so computer labs were required. Services such as e-mail and network data storage were becoming important, and printing was always an issue. These services were provided from the new Boland Information Systems Lab (BISL) in the basement of 3600 N Street (next to Wisemiller’s) and the..exotic..attic of Old North where the MBA Lab was located. The 3600 N Street spaces were funded through a generous gift from Louis and Maureen Boland. Even now the MSB Tech Center is sometimes referred to as the BISL by those who have been here a while. For the first time student employees were hired to assist, particularly after hours. All Tech Center staff had offices, along with the undergrad computer lab, printers and servers in very cramped spaces.
The GSBTC developed the first GSB web page in 1995 and created a web team (one person) to support it. The same year saw the design and construction of the first really professional network server facilities. Up to that time GSBTC servers were quite literally sometimes constructed in cardboard boxes. Personal computer types were standardized and provided on a regularly updated schedule. There was a conscious move away from ad-hoc IT support to the professional model. Over the years the organization of the Tech Center Staff has continually changed to reflect the need for emerging services. This continues to today with the recent establishment of the AV and Apps Development teams.
The services provided in the Tech Center’s early days seem primitive to us now but they were actually well ahead of most other institutions. For many years, up to the early 2000’s, the GSB Tech Center actually ran the data storage and e-mail systems for the entire university. There was no such thing as a university backbone network so the physical network consisted of a collection of leased phone lines and several varieties of Ethernet wire (thin, thick, twisted pair, cat 3 and cat 5). There was no wireless service until the school renovated and moved into spaces on the second floor of the CarBarn in 2006. These new spaces then reflected advanced classroom design and the best networking available. The CarBarn facilities served GSB/MSB for many years mostly for MBA offices and students.
Georgetown IT advanced in the 2000’s and many services formerly provided by MSB were switched to the new UIS. This allowed the Tech Center to concentrate solely on the requirements of the Business School. The result was the IT services provided to business school students, staff and faculty were consistently ahead of the rest of the university. The model adopted at the time was to emulate a “Progressive Corporate Environment”. This model continues to today although the way it is implemented and the services offered have changed dramatically. The Tech Center also made the decision to leverage improving UIS services whenever possible and concentrate on providing additional value.
In 2004 the now McDonough School of Business Tech Center (MSBTC) moved to facilities in the New South Building. It was an interesting evolution that reflects the flexible and adaptive nature of MSBTC. Because of very late notice that MSBTC had to move out of the BISL at 3600 N Street the New South spaces (an old cafeteria) were totally unprepared. Once the space was provided by GU Facilities however, we just started building. There were never any plans. If we needed a wall or electricity we just made a mark on the floor and started building. Never the less MSBTC constructed the New South space, including a lab and a server room, and all the office spaces, and moved in within 60 days….the actual move coming over Christmas. MSBTC network services were interrupted for only 18 hours on a single weekend.
While the New South space was comfortable and had a magnificent view, MSB was still spread over 6 locations on campus and as far out as the same block where Booeymonger’s is located now. The varied locations and network configurations made support more difficult and all MSB users and tech staff longed for a single, modern facility.
That facility is the new Hariri Building. Hariri is the result of many years of inspired leadership and planning. It was designed to incorporate IT from the start and the emphasis shows. It is easily the most IT capable building on campus and a model for business schools everywhere. MSB users now enjoy co-located tech support and many advanced services, virtually all of which can be provided directly to the user PC, eliminating the need for computer labs. The emphasis on providing services modeled after the Progressive Corporate Environment and directed exclusively to MSB students, faculty and staff remains however.