In October I wrote to you to outline the changes we were undertaking to our systems to address the various outages we experienced over the course of this year.
IDENTIFYING THE CULPRIT
We identified that the primary source of instability lay within our storage servers of which there are four. Each one would, on average, fail about every 40 days, requiring a restart. We found some evidence to suspect the ‘Network File System’ (NFS) layer of being the culprit and our response has been to redesign our system architecture to remove NFS from our system.
By the end of October we completed this procedure for 3 of the 4 servers. The last server still needed NFS to run certain web server files and we needed to set up an alternative solution for this. This took us into the first weekend of December when we saw this fourth NFS connected server crash again. Whilst terribly inconvenient, it did go some way to support our suspicions that NFS was the culprit.
I am cautiously happy to observe that we now appear to have a more stable service. All four storage servers are updated and NFS-free. Three of the servers have now been running since October without incident and this last one has been stable since the beginning of December.
It is still a bit early to be definitively sure that we will see long-term reliability improvements and we will continue to monitor everything. We are also preparing now for scaling the system to ensure that stability is not compromised as more people join.
Now for some good news…
Due to popular demand we have now added a direct debit payment option. We have had comments from several people saying it is inconvenient having to pay each year and that a direct debit system would make their life easier. We have teamed up with GoCardless.com to provide a really easy to use online direct debit setup. When you next renew you can choose this option and it will continue to charge you year on year. Of course if you change your package or addons you will have to revise the direct debit order. We hope this will help you avoid the annual hassle of renewal.
WEBMAIL – SNEAK PREVIEW
Whilst our systems administrators have been working hard on the servers our designers and developers have been working hard on bringing this webmail upgrade to reality. Many of you will remember the webmail concept we released more than a year ago. We have evolved this into what we think is a really modern looking, and intelligently flowing design. We intend to have a mini-tour of it available by Christmas which will be used to gather your feedback
We are putting all available development capacity onto this in January and we hope to complete the build in Q1 of 2013.
I look forward to being in touch again before Christmas to launch the next step of this long awaited upgrade.
With best wishes,