UNSW reassures reliability to users after outages

Investigations continue into domain outages earlier last week

The University of New South Wales has sought to reassure students of its reliability, after its domain name registration expired, resulting in outages in all external-facing UNSW websites and email bounce backs.

In an email addressed to staff, UNSW’s director of IT services, Michael Kirby-Lewis, explained the issue to staff.

“Due to a problem with the main UNSW domain (unsw.edu.au) most UNSW websites became inaccessible to external users from 10am this morning.

“Additionally, outside emails to unsw.edu.au addresses were returned to senders with an error message. Students and Staff, outside campus, were unable to access web services such as MyUNSW, TELT applications (e.g. Blackboard) or Web access to Outlook Staff email,” Kirby-Lewis said in the email. “The outage did not affect internal web services or users on UNSW campuses.”

According to the email, the issue with the domain registration organisation, Education.au, was resolved and email and internet providers advised of the issue.

“There may be a lag in restoring external site access while internet and email service providers refresh their domain name servers. At this time, both Telstra Bigpond and Optus have updated their servers.”

In a follow up email to Computerworld Australia, Kirby-Lewis explained that the main domain registration expired at midnight Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which was 10am Wednesday morning Sydney time.

“Within 15 minutes of that time various Internet and email Service providers updated their domain names servers,” Kirby-Lewis said in the email.

“The registration renewal was processed before 1pm and AES pushed the update out manually rather than waiting for the standard update cycle. Providers started to pick up this update shortly after 1pm.

“We are currently investigating why a payment lodged with AES in June was not processed and also why neither party can locate any warning emails that should have been received at 30 days, 14 days and 1 day prior to expiry.”

In the same week, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) suffered another outage on one of its Blackboard servers, resulting in no access of online student resources for the better part of two days.

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