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Downtime costly if not embarrassing

Interneterruption: technical glitches hamper move

JACKSON — How much do businesses rely on the Internet? While no one can measure a business’s dependence on Internet connectivity, working without it can serve as a minor hindrance or have devastating effects, as several companies in metro Jackson found out last week.

On Jan. 23, Internet Doorway Inc. (Netdoor) moved its operations from WorldCom’s colocation facility in downtown Jackson to its new data center on North State Street, and scheduled sporadic outages from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. for all Internet services and dialup and dedicated service areas across the state. During this time, businesses were forewarned that many critical services such as Web mail, authentication and Internet connectivity would be lost until they were brought back online in the new building.

But after 8 a.m. on Jan. 23, Netdoor clients were still without Internet service. By noon the following day, all problems had been resolved, and Internet service was restored to all Netdoor customers.

“Netdoor posted the scheduled outages on their Web site, but we have no reason to go to their Web site and look at it to see such a posting, so we had no notification that they were going to do this,” said Danny Mitchell, chairman and CEO of GodwinGroup in Jackson, a Netdoor customer. “We’ve also been told that it took longer than anticipated, and that it was down for six hours and 20 minutes, and that the site was back on at 9:20 a.m. on Jan. 23.”

“During that time, Governor (Ronnie) Musgrove was holding press briefings in different parts of the state and was telling people to go to our Web site for further information, but we were down approximately 20 minutes during the time we were telling people to go to it,” said Mitchell. (GodwinGroup is the advertising agency of record for the State of Mississippi.) “As a result, we’ve decided to use a different hosting partner.”

Marshall Morgan, president of Netdoor, said GodwinGroup’s Internet access was back on at 8:07 a.m., and everyone but GodwinGroup’s in-house staff had access to their Web site.

“There was no problem,” Morgan stated emphatically. “That’s what I don’t understand. We announced this move about four weeks ago for the third time. Everybody on the planet knew we were going to be down between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. If Godwin can’t read, I can’t help it. If the governor, and Godwin, chose to announce this Web site on the day we were moving, I can’t help that.”

Netdoor’s outage was originally scheduled in December, but was postponed until Jan. 9 because of power concerns. On Jan. 9, a core Ethernet switch failed, causing an extended outage for the first time in more than four years, and the move was rescheduled to Jan. 23, according to information posted on Netdoor’s Web site.

Larry Greer, BellSouth’s director of community affairs, said Netdoor experienced a trouble condition that affected a small portion of their ISDN service. (The impacted ISDN lines provide service to a portion of their business customers.)

“We found out about this trouble (Jan. 23) right after lunch, after Netdoor connected their equipment at their new location to our ISDN lines,” Greer said. “The trouble was caused by an incorrect coded instruction used to route calls in the system. We had very thoroughly pretested those circuits the week before, and had encountered no problems when we were dialing out on these lines. Sometimes, what happens though, is when you actually go real-time with a customer’s equipment, occasionally you’ll find miscoded instruction. And that’s what happened here.”

Morgan said he couldn’t anticipate “that BellSouth wouldn’t have its act together.”

“We weren’t very nice about the whole thing,” he said. “We asked them why they couldn’t find some interim solution.”

BellSouth dispatched technical support personnel to work both in our central office and with the customer at his location, Greer said.

“We were able to correct the trouble condition about noon (Jan. 24),” he said. “When you consider how sophisticated this ISDN service is, and how many hundreds, if not thousands, of instructions have to be coded, it just takes one or two to cause that particular event to occur. This is a very responsive recovery time given the sophistication of the service.”

Netdoor, founded by Morgan in 1995, has reported the least number of outages and the best performance and reliability of ISPs in Mississippi, Morgan said.

The move allows the company to be a colocation center, with its own power-generating facilities, providing an assurance that Internet service would not be interrupted again, he said.

“We’re probably the only private company in Mississippi that will be a colocation facility and offer Internet as part of the deal — even WorldCom doesn’t offer that here,” Morgan said. “With the change, we can control our own destiny, make sure the power will stay up, and keep the air conditioning cold enough for the equipment.”

Netdoor’s services as a colocation center will include buying phone circuits from other companies and terminating them, using Netdoor’s Internet, selling rack space for multiple purposes — both AC and DC power generating facilities and batteries — and the ability to be more redundant, Morgan said.

Many companies rely on back-up Internet service in case their main connection goes down, with companies such as nfusen, formerly Redundant.net, of Jackson.

Redundant.net was the brainchild of Alan Lange, who worked with WorldCom in 1996 as an Internet product manager, helped build the mega communication giant’s Web site and roll out its first Internet access product. Soon after, Lange went to work with ProsoftTraining, where he trained approximately 2,000 BellSouth salespeople on the Internet.

“The complexity and multiple points of connection required for high bandwidth Internet access can potentially lead to failure and lost operations,” said Bill Rary, CEO of nfusen. “Our solutions allow companies to prevent this risk of failure with managed connectivity services. The result is continuous operations without interruption for our customers.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com or (601) 853-3967.


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