daily californian logo


Apply to The Daily Californian by September 8th!

UC Berkeley's online services restored after Friday power outage

article image


We're an independent student-run newspaper, and need your support to maintain our coverage.

SEPTEMBER 20, 2015

A small fire in the Warren Hall data center Friday night led to the temporary shutdown of all main campus information services, including CalNet, bCourses and the primary campus website.

According to a campuswide email circulated Saturday by Larry Conrad, associate vice chancellor for information technology and chief information officer, the fire originated in the data center about 7 p.m. and activated the building’s fire suppression system, causing the center to power down.

Several key applications were restored Saturday afternoon, and remaining services were estimated to be online by early Sunday morning, according to Conrad’s email Saturday. By Sunday afternoon, all campus IT systems were fully restored, according to a subsequent campuswide email from Conrad.

System status updates on the information system and technology department’s website stated that an assessment of the initial outage was to begin 7 a.m. Saturday morning. Power was restored shortly after 9 a.m., and CalNet, Google suite, bCourses and the main campus website, www.berkeley.edu, were subsequently brought back online.

Freshman Alexander Rodriguez said only half of the six students in his study group were able to post an assignment due Friday at midnight on bCourses because of the shutdown.

Cathy Koshland, vice chancellor for undergraduate education and Ben Hermalin, chair of the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate, requested in a message posted on bCourses that instructors provide students with appropriate accommodations for possible missed assignments or other difficulties stemming from the outage.

The information system and technology department will conduct a review on the incident and its response procedures Monday, according to another email sent by Conrad on Sunday.

Rita Rosenthal, communications manager for campus’s Office of the Chief Information Officer, said the investigation of the cause of the fire and extent of damage is still in progress, and a full report is expected to be published early next week.

On Sunday morning, bCourses was intermittently inaccessible for several hours because of technical issues unrelated to the Friday power outage. According to Meggan Levitt, deputy director of the campus’s Educational Technology Services, or ETS, the breakdown was due to problems with Amazon Web Services, a component of the host service that the application’s vendor, Canvas, uses for bCourses.

Some users were unable to log into or download files from bCourses after 7 a.m. Sunday, according to a message from bCourses. ETS sent messages to Canvas and students afterward and monitored services on the application itself. By 9:30 a.m., performance on the website was brought back to normal functionality.

According to an update from Canvas on its website, issues with Amazon Web Services were resolved shortly after noon Sunday.

Levitt said that Koshland and Hermalin were informed of the most recent breakdown, and that she believed the instructor-accommodation policy for students on bCourses would be applicable to both outages.

“The vendor handled (the issue) pretty quickly in terms of response,” Levitt said. “We apologize and understand that it’s a terrible time for students to have the outage.”

This article has been updated to reflect further information from multiple campus sources.

Contact Tianyi Dong at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @dong_tianyi.

SEPTEMBER 20, 2015

Related Articles

The clock dictating the Campanile's hourly ring was restored Monday.
The clock dictating the Campanile's hourly ring was restored Monday.
Several buildings on the southeast corner of campus were affected by a power outage Monday afternoon that lasted approximately two hours.
Several buildings on the southeast corner of campus were affected by a power outage Monday afternoon that lasted approximately two hours.