Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Internet has crashed!

I find The Onion (a satirical news site) somewhat uneven, but I got a real kick out of this video:

And while this can't happen, you'd be surprised how often students think that problems with connection are always I&TS's responsibility. Unfortunately, we depend on other people and other systems for network access, and, though our uptime approaches 99.9%, factors beyond our control can cause network issues.
  • Power. Unfortunately, National Grid sometimes has outages. We lost our power a few months ago because a squirrel got into a substation, turning off power. We do have backup, but if the power does go out, we need to shut down systems (to prevent problems) and it can take time to start up systems afterwards. They have to be restarted in the right order, and this takes time.
  • Internet Connection. Like the power supply, sometimes there is a problem with the connection between the campus network and the outside world. This is easier to fix -- we just wait for our ISP to fix the problem -- but it can go on for awhile.
  • Viruses, Spyware, and Servers. These often affect student computers. Once infected, one computer can mess up the Internet connection for dozens of others (sometimes even an entire residence hall, though we've take steps to make that sort of disaster unlikely). A computer sharing out software or games will have the same effect. We can try to limit this, but sometimes our systems haven't caught up and people on the network are inconvenienced.
  • Non-I&TS Network. The School of Science network (Roger Bacon Hall and Morrell) is not managed by I&TS. Any problems have to be directed at them.

So the next time the Internet breaks, remember that I&TS is working hard on fixing the problem -- but the problem is often beyond our control.