Backward looking forward

Four years ago I wrote about yesterday. Well, not exactly. I’m not really clairvoyant or a time traveler. What I wrote in 2014 was about a typical occurrence – an internet outage. These happen. Sometimes a cable breaks, sometimes a power problem disrupts service, sometimes other things can interrupt an internet connection for hours, days, sometimes weeks. It’s not a problem unique to our location, but it does happen here more often than many of us are used to. Therefore we kept mission-critical services (mail, e-learning, etc.) on local servers. It meant more work and headaches, but it also meant that we were in control and could reliably provide services to the school.

So when we were told about a month ago that we’d migrate from our self-hosted mail system (Zimbra) to using GMail, I was skeptical. I’m OK with GMail (I have my own account), but I’ve resisted such a move for years here precisely because of internet interruptions. If there was a disconnection and we were using GMail, I argued, we couldn’t even send notices to colleagues down the hall. We’d asked a Google representative about that at a local presentation and were told that they hoped the infrastructure here would support their services soon. Not very encouraging.

So we moved to GMail. Yay. (I do wonder what exactly is the advantage. I mean, it’s email. It works pretty much the same whether it’s GMail, Yahoo!, Zimbra, or whatever.) Monday was our G-Day. All communications were to be sent on our new GMail system. The old Zimbra system would remain in place for people to have access to old messages, contacts, etc. while we used GMail exclusively for internal and external communication.

Tuesday morning, guess what? No connection. The following message was sent out by the IT Help Desk at 8:10 in the morning:

Dear All,

Our Internet connection is down. Other systems like moodle and powerschool in the local intranet domain are working fine. All Google suites are down at the moment. If you happen to check your zimbra email by any chance and see this, please notify people near by you as they may not check zimbra because of the switch to gmail. We are communicating with telecom about the issue and will let you know when things are restored.

And that’s how communication gets handled here in the 21st century. We were out all day long. No messages. No shared documents. Confusion. Frustration.

If only someone had thought about this before today…


Image credit: I’d love to give credit to the “backwards baseball-cap wearing man shading eyes” meme, but I have no idea where it originated. It’s not mine. I stole it. Sorry.


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