ISS fixes e-mail glitch

GW’s e-mail system was up and running Tuesday at about noon after a severe system failure caused it to go down at approximately 7:30 a.m.

About six engineers worked to fix the morning’s outage, caused by a software problem in the front of the e-mail server, said Ronald Bonig, executive director of Information Systems Services Technology Operations.

He said software glitches are relatively normal in e-mail systems and can be caused by a number of problems, including extremely large e-mail messages sent over the system. Bonig noted that more than 9 million e-mail messages were processed through GW’s system in September.

“You get glitches in all systems, just like your PC,” Bonig said. “There are millions of lines of codes. It is mathematically impossible to test them all.”

There were about 20,000 to 30,000 e-mail messages in a “queue” that were sent out to users slowly after the server began working again. Bonig said the e-mail system can process 30,000 to 40,000 messages in about an hour.

Last year, students were without e-mail access during a large part of January. Bonig said last year’s issue “fried the whole system.”

This summer, officials started phasing in Colonial Mail, which has performed better than the previously used Webmail. Bonig said benefits of the new system include the ability to handle more e-mail messages and the ability to continue running during virus scares.

For example, when the Sobig virus hit this fall, GW’s system slowed down but continued operating. Bonig said some other universities’ systems were down four to five days because of the virus.

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