November 7, 2007 1:33 PM PST

Some sites back online after NaviSite goof

Some sites back online after NaviSite goof
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Some of the 165,000 Web sites that have been offline since Saturday due to a bungled data center move at NaviSite were back up Wednesday, the company said.

NaviSite, which bought Web hosting company Alabanza in August, planned to move Alabanza's servers from Baltimore to NaviSite's headquarters in Andover, Mass. NaviSite warned customers that the sites would be down for about 12 hours on Saturday. Instead, they have been down for five days.

At least for some, things are finally looking up.

More than half of Alabanza's 850 servers and an estimated 60 percent to 65 percent of the customers' Web sites were back up as of Wednesday afternoon, said Rathin Sinha, chief marketing officer at NaviSite. He told CNET News.com that he could not say exactly how many customers or Web sites overall had been affected.

Alabanza had about 300 data center customers who resold hosting services to a "large number" of other companies, he said. At the time Alabanza was acquired by NaviSite, the company said it powered nearly 165,000 sites.

Basically, the company encountered technical problems with migrating data to the new location. The original plan was to physically relocate 200 servers and transfer data from about 650 other servers over the Internet using a dedicated high-bandwidth line, Sinha said.

But the online transfer was taking too long, so the company decided to physically move additional servers to save time, he said. Then, there were some unanticipated synchronization problems involving Address Resolution Protocol requests, which interfered with the transfer of the data to the new servers, he said.

In addition, the servers were overwhelmed with traffic as thousands of customers checked whether their Web sites were back up. That further slowed down the network and recovery process, according to Sinha.

"We have been sequentially bringing customers back up one at a time to validate both Quality Assurance (QA) and optimum performance levels," Mark Clayman, senior vice president of hosting services at NaviSite, wrote in a statement on the company's Web site on Wednesday morning.

But even though they may be back online, unhappy customers are threatening to switch to a different hosting provider.

Taking data into their own hands
Cynthia Brumfield, president of consulting firm Emerging Media Dynamics, had been planning to drive a convoy with other unplugged NaviSite customers to the company's headquarters. The plan was to get copies of data that they could put back online themselves with another provider. Then Brumfield's site came back up.

"But we're downloading the files as fast as we can in the event the sites go down again. That way we can quickly move to another hosting provider if need be," she wrote on her IP Democracy blog.

"There are a lot of lessons to be learned in all of this. First, always keep back-ups of everything away from your Web hosting provider. Secondly, losing access to e-mail, client projects, Web sites, and other Internet-related tools causes a form of insanity," Brumfield writes. "One person estimated that her business lost $20,000 in sales over the past four days, which is a lot of money to a small-business owner. More importantly, some of NaviSite's customers have lost customers themselves, which is a kind of permanent loss."

Erik Staley, president of biotech consulting firm Valicom, isn't one of the lucky ones. Three sites he owns were still dark on Wednesday. "I don't know if I'm down for a day, a week, a month," he said in a phone interview. "One of the biggest problems has been lack of communication and only very generalized responses from NaviSite about this."

Staley opened a Gmail account so his clients and others could contact him. "But you can't go to my site and send in requests and learn more about me," he said. "Just the appearance of running some sort of substandard operation reflects badly on my business."

Asked about complaints about poor customer service, NaviSite's Sinha said the company was sorry for the problems and was doing the best it could to ameliorate the situation.

"We got way beyond our normal customer service volume, so the best we could do was to really open up more (phone) lines," bring all the salespeople into the office to answer calls and outsource the customer support to India overnight, he said.

"We take it very seriously. This impacted so many people and so many businesses," Sinha said. "We're doing it 24/7. This company is trying to get this thing fixed."

See more CNET content tagged:
NaviSite Inc., data center, hosting company, Web hosting company, consulting company

6 comments

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very bad goof
but still not as bas as Microsofts goof which still continues even though they admit the error in forcing WDS 3.x on users across the world even still today. Will Microsoft fix this so it will stop happening ASAP? I do not think so.
Posted by inachu (963 comments )
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Poor Planning
That was very poor planning. I have moved several companies in the past and backing and migrating data over the Internet was a very bad idea. I would have looked at other ways of moving the data. A well planned project would have only taken a good weekend at most, even with all those servers.
Posted by chuckthorne (2 comments )
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Navisite Fiasco
I am one of the hosting companies affected by this botched move. All my clients web sites have now been offline for 6 days. I have lost in 6 days what took me 9 years to develop. My company is yorweb.com and my site when it was online was <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://yorweb.com" target="_newWindow">http://yorweb.com</a>. I have been on Navisite conference calls for hours, talked with their sales area, their tech area and am still not online. Management is hiding at this point and you can't get any kind of a response from anyone. In 6 days I have received 1 email from an individual at Navisite. I have received the canned email updates thanking us for our patience. I lost my patience along time ago.
None of my phone calls have been returned. If you call their support line it is in India. It is difficult seeing a business I spent 9 years working on go down this way.
Bill Liverseidge
Yorweb.com
Posted by yorweb (1 comment )
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Sounds like the host of my used to be site
Migration from one site to another or one set of computers to another must be a really difficult thing. The company that I host with could not get it right for weeks either. They call themselves the top NO. 1 Internet Hosting Service but it must really really be difficult to move stuff. Nobody seems to be able to do it right and none of them see to have a clue how long it will take. Don't see what is so hard about this migration stuff IF you play correctly and do it right. NaviSite is just a normal bunch of geeks that must want us to believe in how hard they all are working but it is not like they have to physically carry the stuff between systems. But I guess it is normal to screw up migrations.
Posted by ramudd (32 comments )
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Navicrap
Navicrap did NOT warn web sites that they would be out until 830PM Friday night - and my sites were off line Thursday. This was 2 work days before my annual conference and some people could not - did not register as a result, and others called to make certain we were still in business (my company is 23 years old).

We are no longer hosted by Navicrap and I will flame them any and every chance I get.
Posted by amtower (2 comments )
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If I had a choice of 0 stars I would have chosen it. My site was hosted on Navisite (Andover Mass) for the past two years. I am beyond glad to be off their servers. As a final straw, My BIG issue with this company is their deplorable business practices. (((WARNING))) BE VERY CAREFUL IF YOU SIGN A CONTRACT WITH NAVISITE!!! There is a clause in their rediculously long contract that states in effect: IF YOU DO NOT CANCEL YOUR SERVICE 30 DAYS BEFORE THE CURRENT CONTRACT EXPIRATION, IT AUTOMATICALLY RENEWS FOR ANOTHER FULL TERM!!!!!!! THERE IS NO PRIOR NOTIFICATION OF TERM ENDING! They hosted my site for more than two years. Even though my initial contract was up with them without incident, they now threaten to go after me to satisfy the remainder of their automatically renewed contract. In my opinion, the idea that any company let alone one the size of Navisite/Time Warner, uses these types of bullying tactics as a customer retention strategy is repugnant. I WOULD ABSOLUTELY NOT RECOMMEND DOING BUSINESS WITH THIS COMPANY! There are far too many reputable choices out there today to have to make that choice.
Posted by Richinsd52 (6 comments )
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