NinerNet Communications™
System Status

Server and System Status

NC036: Migration update 25 — Final

18 June 2018 08:54:43 +0000

The migration of all email accounts from server NC027 to server NC036 is complete. In fact, it was successfully completed at 04:00 UTC on 4 June. What followed over the next few days was an unprecedented avalanche of misinformation and red herrings that resulted in our moving the new server to another data centre (a move that took ten times longer than the previous move from the data centre where NC027 was located) where the same “problems” experienced by only some of our clients magically reappeared.

We planned the migration to have absolutely no impact on existing email configurations. We did this by pointing legacy sub-domains of the niner.net domain that named server NC027 — e.g., smtp27.niner.net — to server NC036. At the conclusion of the migration these sub-domains were indeed pointing to the new server. In other words, on Monday morning (4 June) email programs would have thought they were still downloading mail from the same server, not realising (or needing to realise) that they were in fact downloading from a new server.

However, it turned out that a significant minority of email programs were somehow misconfigured with settings that worked on the old server, but stopped working when connecting to the new server. Those clients who were using the correct settings experienced no disruption at all, and when those clients with incorrect settings corrected them on the morning of Monday the 11th, the problems were fixed instantly.

Over the rest of that week (11-15 June) we helped a few clients with some issues unique to how they use email, especially where those practices clashed with current best practices for email transmission. We also dealt with some issues of senders whose mail servers were behaving improperly, causing their emails to be blocked because they looked like spammers. This notably affected email from the ZRA, but their emails are once again flowing unimpeded.

We’re monitoring the spam filtering on the new server. Any message that the server identifies as spam will have the subject of the message prefixed to add “[SPAM]“. You can use this to configure your email program or the webmail to deal with spam automatically, by filtering it into your “junk” folder or deleting it entirely. We recommend filtering to the junk folder so that you can catch the occasional legitimate message that is misclassified as spam.

Finally, in recognition of the fact that the emergency migration of the server to a new data centre on 6 June disrupted all clients’ email, and the fact that those clients with misconfigured email programs experienced a week of disruption before the issue was identified, we will be applying a one-week (quarter month) credit to the accounts of all clients hosted on server NC036. We apologise for the difficulties caused, and will apply what was learned this time to future migrations.

Thank-you, as always, for your custom and patience.

NC036: Migration update 13

6 June 2018 12:52:23 +0000

We will post a postmortem here in due course, hopefully with 24-48 hours, along with a thousand more apologies, but we are looking for feedback to ensure that all clients are able to connect to the server and download and send email, as this was not the case on Monday and Tuesday.

NC036: Migration update 12 — server back online

6 June 2018 12:28:04 +0000

The transfer of the mail spools has completed and server NC036 was brought back online at 12:12 UTC.

NC036: Migration update 12

6 June 2018 08:32:10 +0000

The transfer of mail data between the old and new data centres is still underway. Considering the transfer of the same amount of data took 50 minutes over the weekend, and we are now at the 5-hour mark, it was impossible for us to predict that this would take so long.

I can assure you that I understand the frustration that you are feeling with this situation, but given the network problems in southern and central Africa that necessitated this emergency move, we had no choice but to act immediately rather than forcing many clients to do without mail until the weekend.

My best estimate at this point, based on how much data has transferred so far (55%) and how much is left, is that the transfer will complete at approximately 13:00 UTC. Assuming this is the case, the server will be back online and accessible at about 13:30 UTC.

I sincerely and deeply apologise for this situation.

NC036: Migration update 11

6 June 2018 04:42:04 +0000

The transfer is taking significantly longer than we anticipated, likely due to the greater distance between the two data centres.

NC036: Migration update 10

6 June 2018 03:36:47 +0000

We’re almost done. Just waiting for the mail spools to finish transferring, then a few checks (double-checks) to ensure that all is in order, and we’ll re-enable all services. Then more checks to ensure that mail is flowing as it should, and then we await feedback.

NC036: Migration update 9

6 June 2018 01:22:20 +0000

We’ve finished planning this emergency migration of the new mail server (NC036), and will be shutting it down within the next five minutes.

NC036: Migration update 8 — Plan B

5 June 2018 23:32:15 +0000

Over the weekend we successfully migrated all of the email accounts on old server NC027 to new server NC036. Except that for a large swathe of our clients, this migration was NOT a success.

We can tell you unequivocally that the new server is running and running well. It’s doing a much better job than the old server, and we splurged on a high-performance server with additional software to process mail quicker and to do a better job of filtering out spam and viruses. That part is all going great, and I can tell you that I am delighted about that part.

The part that’s not going great is that the data centre in which we placed the new server appears to have some serious networking issues for a large number of clients in southern and central Africa. We could spend the next week troubleshooting this and perhaps find the cause (and then work on addressing the cause), but you and we don’t have the luxury of that much time. Within the next few hours we will send troubleshooting instructions to affected clients, just in case.

What we are going to do to resolve this issue is use the wonders of modern technology to shut down the new server, take an image of it to preserve the time, effort and expense that has gone into creating it, and transfer it to new hardware in a different data centre. Ideally I would like to take a day to set up a test server in that data centre but, again, you can’t afford to have no or limited access to your email for a day.

Fortunately the process of moving to another data centre is quite straightforward, and will not require as much downtime as the full migration did. Copying the image from one data centre to another will be much like physically carrying the server to the new data centre; it’s already set up and configured, it just needs to be plugged in at the other end. The only thing that will not be quicker is that we have to use more traditional methods to transfer your mail spools to the new server. This took 50 minutes on the weekend, but with two equally powerful servers on both ends of the transfer it should be a bit quicker this time.

We will shut down the server at 01:00 UTC on Wednesday 6 June. Including the data transfer and some minor reconfiguration, I sincerely hope to have it back online by 03:00 UTC.

Please keep an eye on this status blog, where we will post important updates during the process.

Thank-you for your extraordinary patience.

NC036: Migration update 7

4 June 2018 08:56:05 +0000

My apologies for not getting an update out sooner, but there have been some inevitable issues.

  • mail27.niner.net: First, if you have somehow been using the mail27.niner.net sub-domain in your email configuration, this was not a sub-domain intended to be used that way, and so was not pointed to the new server. However, we have reconsidered, and it is now pointing to the new server to assist those who apparently have it configured in their email.
  • Control panels: We are moving away from the unhelpful “cp” (control panel) sub-domains. The new mail control panel is located at mail.niner.net.
  • Webmail: This is now located at webmail.niner.net. We’ll be updating your domains with a “webmail” sub-domain to redirect to this in due course.
  • Control panel user names: If you used to log into the control panel with a user name that was your client code @mail27.niner.net, these no longer exist. We’ll be sending new log-in information within the next 24 hours. In the meantime, if you need to do anything in the control panel, please advise and we will assist.
  • Microsoft domains (Hotmail, Outlook, etc.): Despite the fact that we advised Microsoft through the proper channels that our new IP address is in their blacklist and their informing us that it would be removed, they are still blocking us. We are routing emails to their primary domains through our relay server to avoid emails being bounced, but it’s still possible that emails to these domains my end up in your correspondents’ spam folders.
  • Delays/losses: While the mail servers were down for approximately 7.5 hours — a lot longer than the four hours we optimistically forecast — incoming email to you sent while they were down will have been held on the sending server. Some of that backlog may take several hours to clear, depending on the policies of the senders’ mail servers, but the servers were down during an off-peak period anyway. Additionally, while we strive never to lose a single email during maintenance and migrations, we have seen several of our own emails to clients bounce. We will investigate and fix this issue.
  • Spam/viruses: On a more positive note, we’re already seeing this new server doing a much improved job of stopping spam and viruses.

Finally, one last apology for promising this migration three weeks ago and not actually delivering until now, and for not having all of the issues ironed out well in advance of Monday morning.

We’ll likely have additional information to post here later, but in the meantime you are welcome to contact us if you are having any issues not covered by the above.

NC027: Migration update 6

4 June 2018 04:25:43 +0000

Mail started flowing again at about 04:00 UTC. We will have some further details as time permits in the next couple of hours.

One apology: I’ve been using the wrong server number in the titles of the last few posts.

NinerNet home page

Systems at a Glance:


Loc.SystemStatusPing
Server NC020, Chicago, United States of America, OPERATIONAL.NC020OperationalPing
Server NC023, London, United Kingdom, OPERATIONAL.NC023OperationalPing
Server NC027, London, United Kingdom, INTERNAL.NC027InternalPing
Server NC028, Vancouver, Canada, INTERNAL.NC028InternalPing
Server NC031, New York, United States of America, OPERATIONAL.NC031OperationalPing
Server NC033, Toronto, Canada., OPERATIONAL.NC033OperationalPing
Server NC034, Lusaka, Zambia, INTERNAL.NC034InternalPing
Server NC035, Sydney, Australia, PROVISIONING.NC035ProvisioningPing
Server NC036, Amsterdam, Netherlands, OPERATIONAL.NC036OperationalPing

Subscriptions:

RSS icon. RSS

Twitter icon. Twitter

General Information:

This blog provides information about the status of NinerNet Communications systems. Dates and times of posts to this blog are in the UTC time zone, and dates and times given for events are also in the UTC time zone, although conversions may be offered for some time zones common to our clients. Please use the World Time Server to ensure accurate conversion of dates and times to your own time zone.

Search:

 

Recent Posts:

Archives:

Categories:

Links

Tags:

.co.zm domains .com.zm domains .zam.co domains back-up bounce messages browser warnings configuration connection issues control panel database dns dos attack dot-zm domains down time email delivery error messages ftp hardware imap mailing lists mail relay mail server microsoft migration nameservers outlook performance phplist pop reboot smtp spam spamassassin ssl ssl certificate tls tls certificate viruses webmail web server

Resources:

On NinerNet: