This past Sunday, Swarthmore College experienced an Internet outage that blocked students from accessing any external websites. The outage also caused a backup of incoming and outgoing mail. Both internal campus networks as well as telephone service continued to function normally on and off campus.
ITS was alerted to the problem at around 7:30AM on Sunday morning, when the ITS Help Desk began to recieve calls from students. Swarthmore’s network support provider, TransNet, was alerted right away. However, due to the holiday weekend, staffing was lower then usual, and TransNet was not able to immediately dispatch someone to identify and remedy the problem. According to Mark Dumic, Associate Director of Networking and Telecommunications, Internet traffic was being blocked at the bandwidth-shaper network electronics on campus. The running software image on the device had stopped working correctly and needed to be reloaded. “In the five or so years we have used the device it has proven itself to be very reliable but problems can occur with any electronic device; even those with good track records,” he says in an e-mail. Internet access was restored by 7:45PM on Sunday night, and the backlog of e-mail was processed and delivered by Monday morning.
The College began using TransNet for network support this past summer, when the new telephone system was implemented. Since the outage, TransNet has increased the amount of support staff available during off-hours, and has also taken steps to ensure that someone is quickly assigned to remedy future problems. ITS deeply regrets any inconvenience the outage may have caused. The Gazette suggests, for future reference, to please make sure you are stocked up on canned foods, a battery-powered radio, and a deck of playing cards to pass the time.