Virgin Media taps Microsoft in lengthy email outage
Urgent Exchange upgrade
Virgin Media customers have been suffering email outages for several days, prompting the firm to call in Microsoft engineers to help with an urgent upgrade.
A mysterious configuration problem was identified on one of VM's eight email server clusters last Wednesday. Microsft engineers have struggled to identify the cause, forcing several reboots.
The ongoing failure has affected about 10 per cent of VM's ex-Telewest subscribers.
In a statement, the cable firm said:
We have been suffering intermittent problems affecting email access for some customers with @blueyonder.co.uk email addresses. We have been working with our platform supplier Microsoft to establish the cause of this problem and have made good progress, however some issues remain.
We are working to resolve these as a top priority. Virgin Media apologises for any inconvenience this may have caused.
A spokesman said a programme to migrate the email servers to a Microsoft Exchange 2003 platform has been accelerated as a result of the outages.
On the VM support site Alex Brown, a senior product manager, wrote: "It's not been a good week on the email front on the xTW mail platform. On a positive front, yesterday at our senior management change board we made the call to 'go' for migrating the cluster to the Exchange 2003 platform
"This is scheduled to kick off on Monday, and will take about two weeks - as long as we have no further issues."
A separate hardware problem on an authentication server has also caused a slowdown across all eight clusters, reportedly now resolved. ®
Generally poor service availability for the last few months
It's not just the email that has gone down the toilet - coincidently all the problems seem to have started or gotten progressively worse since Virgin took over, but even generally browsing and network speed is now diabolical!
I've been a business user of TW broadband for 7 years and this is easily the worst service/availability I had during this time.
OWA is widely used by ISPs
Including BT Business, it's very good. Though I wonder why they are using the 2003 version when 2007 has been around for years.
I am no big user of MSoft (Mac and Ubantu and MS MacOffice 2008) also I question why you would want to dedicate all that kit and server room space to such a server hungry mail system.
But, at least VM knows who to call when they have a problem. Unlike the weakly supported Linux platforms, MSoft has a lot of competent engineers to call on; I wonder if Cambridge University could send around a few undergraduates to get VMs mail systems up and running.
I strongly doubt many others could put half a dozen engineers on site within a day of a major failure.
VM is a business, not a technological theocracy, and needs must when the devil drives.
Joined Up Business
NTL users' email woes don't have any connection with this Blueyonder outage. There's no connection between those systems. The only parts of Virgin Media that are joined up (even all this time after the NTL:Telewest hookup) are billing and complaints, which seem to be their main growth areas...