So What Happened to the Online Courses Today (Nov 29)?
Today, Monday, November 29, the online courses website was down from 5:15-6:30pm. Earlier in the day, at 3:10PM, the servers had to be restarted because a major process on those servers stopped responding properly. While the online course websites were back up in a matter of minutes, they did not restart properly. We noticed a number of problems, not the least of which was the inability to use Firefox to sign in to online courses or access the BBS in online courses or CoursePlus. As a result, the services had to be restarted so that they could run properly and people could use Firefox again.
However, when the services were restarted, the servers began to experience heavy load. A couple of classes had LiveTalks, and a number had quizzes and Drop Box assignments due this evening. While the servers were trying to come up, they were getting more and more requests from students needing to sign in to their LiveTalks and to get their work done. The servers restarting combined with increasing load of requests formed a vicious circle that only made it more difficult for the servers to return to normal functionality.
After making some server-side adjustments to help reduce the severity of this problem, access to online courses was restored at about 6:30pm. The problems seen earlier — including the inability to sign in with Firefox — had been resolved.
We understand how very frustrating it is to not be able to access your online courses for any period of time. We dislike outages as much as you do, and we work to avoid them whenever possible. When there are outages, we try to communicate as best we can with you about the situation and to resolve the problems as quickly as possible. We did communicate directly with the classes with LiveTalks this evening to help facilitate the LiveTalks in spite of the problems accessing online courses, and, fortunately, all the LiveTalks happened.
We thank you for your patience with today's outage, and hope that we won't be making another post like this again for a very long time.