June 17, 2008

Sudden E-mail Outage Affects Cornell Community

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Members of the Cornell community are still facing problems trying to send and receive e-mail as the University continues to combat a widespread, unexpected outage of many of its e-mail servers.

Cornell staff and Sun Microsystems have been working “around the clock” to remedy the situation since the problems first occurred on Sunday at noon, according to Simeon Moss ’73, director of Cornell Press Relations.

As of Tuesday afternoon the affected servers, known as postoffices, were not fixed. Postoffices 6, 7, 8, and 9 were still affected by the outage while postoffice 10 was operating properly, according to the CIT website.

The cause of the problem was a bug in Cornell’s e-mail system that caused the disk drives to automatically reboot themselves, according to Moss.

“After the drives are rebooted, there is an elaborate system of checks that must be performed,” he said. “It’s a time-consuming task to get these systems back up.”

The problems were not related to a virus or any external activities, Moss said.

“It’s a bug that is known to the vendor, Sun Microsystems, and Cornell has been working with the vendor to fix that bug,” Moss said, “They thought that it had been fixed.”

The estimate was that sometime overnight all the postoffices would be up and running, Moss said on Monday evening. Some postoffices were expected to be operational by midnight, while Postoffice 7 was expected to lag slightly behind.

CIT handles 961 million email messages every year, according to its website.

Please continue to check back for more updates regarding this developing story.