Personal experience: the perils and pain of losing Internet access


I thought that I was all set for the Exchange 2010 high availability webinar that I co-presented on behalf of Marathon Technologies on February 24 – or so I believed. The slides had been done, we had run through how webinars work using the GoToMeeting tool (easy to use – assuming that you have a reliable Internet connection), and I connected 35 minutes in advance of the event to ensure that connectivity was smooth. All was prepared until the gremlins struck.

I guess I should have expected the worse. Vodafone is my Internet provider and they have had an unhappy time (as have I) in terms of the service provided to my house. We moved out for a couple of months and had good service from Vodafone in the other property, but after we moved back we ran into a blizzard of connectivity problems that caused my already graying hair to rapidly advance towards total whiteness.

By mid December all seemed to have been resolved. Apart that is from an intermittent drop in service that caused the router/modem to lose connectivity with the rest of the network. There’s been a lot of discussion about why this might happen in online forums such as boards.ie ranging from the need to upgrade the firmware for my Hauwei HG556a router to Vodafone incompetence to lack of IP addresses available to Vodafone customers. A call to Vodafone technical support on February 24 to express my concern about the unexplained drops extracted the good news that they had located a problem that had been the root cause of many customer complaints and that the fix was in place. No future outages should be expected, or so I was reassured by the nice man from Vodafone support.

And so we moved to the time scheduled for the webinar. All proceeded smoothly until I started to speak and then the connection dropped. I didn’t notice for a moment or two so had the sweet experience of speaking to myself until the penny dropped. I powered the modem off and on to restore connectivity and rejoined the webinar a chastened and embarrassed speaker. Fortunately the Marathon Technology team had realized the problem and had swung into action to present another part of the webinar while I went through my connectivity crisis.

The webinar was on the topic of high availability for Exchange 2010 so I was able to make some comments about my personal lack of a highly available network connection and the need to incorporate resilience into planning for server deployment when I resumed my presentation. Without feedback from the two hundred or so listeners it’s hard to know what they thought about the outage but looking back I think that it was both funny and painful (more pain than joy however).

Losing my connection reminded me once again about our dependency on the Internet and an infrastructure that we know little about or understand how those responsible operate. This is something that I suspect will come into sharp focus for companies that contemplate the potential move to cloud-based services such as Office 365. After all, if an individual can lose connectivity to a service and spoil a webinar through a transient outage, what will be the effect of a similar outage on a company’s operations if they depend on cloud-based applications?

– Tony

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About Tony Redmond ("Thoughts of an Idle Mind")

Exchange MVP, author, and rugby referee
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