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Navisite scrambles to restore web hosting service

Planned server migration knocked thousands of sites offline

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Navisite, the US webhosting firm, is scrambling to fix an extended outage that is believed to have rendered tens of thousands of websites inoperable for more than three days. The company hopes to completely resolve the problem by Tuesday morning at the latest.

The interruption started Saturday as part of a planned move to replace a fleet of aging servers operated by Alabanza, which Navisite recently acquired. Navisite warned customers their websites would be down for several hours during the migration, but unexpected issues have caused the process to take much longer than originally anticipated.

"We have a large team and their only focus is to get over this and resolve it," Rathin Sinha, Navisite's chief marketing officer, told The Reg. "We are really hoping this is something we'll be able to address by a very reasonable amount of time, if not by tonight, then by early tomorrow morning."

Sinha promised to provide regularly updated status reports on progress here. A report issued at 11:35 California time said the company had "made good progress on the configuration of the core networking that has stabilized the environment and allowed us bring up a significant number of additional hosts."

There's no fury like the collective scorn of thousands of customers whose websites are knocked offline for days on end. Many expressed their tdispleasure in blogs.

"This is outrageous and reckless behavior by this company," the writer of this entry on Light Reading wrote. "Customers are infuriated as many of them are small hosting providers with hundreds or thousands of their own clients, all of whom are being wiped out simultaneously with no recourse."

Sinha was unable to estimate exactly how many websites were affected. Alabanza serves about 300 customers who then resell service to smaller website operators. Navisite's best estimate is that 5,000 to 7,000 customers buy service through these resellers, he said.

Several Reg readers have written in to challenge that estimate. Christianwebhost.com, a single reseller, claims here to have 20,000 customers. One reader commenting below estimates the number of affected sites is 200,000.

As engineers began transferring data to the new servers, they quickly realized the process was going to take more time than previously thought. The company also ran into problems when they had to locate some machines in Navisite's Andover, Massachusetts, data center, rather than a location in Baltimore, as the plan had previously called for.

The company has set up two numbers customers who still don't have access can call to get their problems addressed. ®

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