Failed Router Causes Day-Long Internet Outage

Andrew Wickerham

The failure of the University’s main connection to the World Wide Web spurred Tuesday’s day-long Internet service interruption. According to Director of Academic Technologies David Baird, Colgate’s edge router failed some time in the early morning hours of April 20, causing widespread disruption to e-mail service and blocking access to the Colgate network from off-campus connections.

All University Internet traffic flows through the edge router, which Baird described as, “a piece of equipment we have one of because it’s too expensive to have two of—over six figures.” Service from Time Warner, which provides Colgate’s backbone Internet connection, was not affected.

“The problem was like a faucet that was turned off and nothing was coming through,” Baird said.

Blackboard, Moodle and other in-house network features operated on campus, but were also inaccessible from off-campus sites.

According to Baird, Cisco Systems, which manufactures the router, is contractually obligated to respond within four hours to an edge router failure. Information Technology Services was aware of the problem by 8 a.m. and the replacement part arrived within the official four-hour window; however, the new router failed as well. A working router arrived on campus around 5:15 p.m., and was operational by 5:30 p.m.

“E-mail then funneled through over the course of the evening,” Baird said

There are no apparent residual effects from the service interruption and no other servers failed. Last week’s power outage did not effect the University’s network hardware, which has short-term battery and long-term diesel generator back-up power supplies to mitigate the effects of a power loss.