WebMail crashes again on Monday

Students attempting to check Blackboard Academic Suite or their USF WebMail accounts before morning classes may have run into some difficulty in doing so Monday.

Around 10 a.m., the main server used to host myUSF’s Blackboard failed, causing a lapse in service for both the Blackboard Academic Suite and USF WebMail.

This setback comes just one month after several smaller crashes caused Academic Computing officials to borrow space from Blackboard’s servers for WebMail.

“We had the big problem Thanksgiving and some issues with the new hardware that we purchased around finals week,” Academic Computing Assistant Director Alex Campoe said. “Since then, we’ve been running on borrowed storage. We still have the mail servers, but all the mail is stored within Blackboard until we receive our own storage that we received from Sun (Microsystems).”

After the Thanksgiving crash – during which, any mail received between 4 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Nov. 21 was lost – Academic Computing purchased a new Dell server to replace old hardware. But according to Campoe, the new hardware was only meant to be used as a back up to existing servers. When Academic Computing attempted to use the Dell server, which they hoped would be more secure, the December crashes occurred.

The cause of Monday’s crash is not known, but officials say it was most likely a power fluctuation that caused the main Blackboard server – one of eight – to crash.

When the main server crashed, it caused the other seven to go down as well, according to Associate Director of University Computer Systems for Academic Computing Alicia Balsera.

Though officials assume that a power fluctuation was to blame for the crash, the cause won’t be officially known for some days.

“We are conducting forensics,” Balsera said. “Our first approach was just to restore service, so we haven’t spent much time in looking at the logs to see what happened. Because of the nature of the failure, we suspect that it was either a power failure or a power surge that would cause the major node to go down.”

Blackboard was up and running around noon and fully restored by 1:30 p.m. At deadline, WebMail was not restored but no mail will be permanently lost.