Our department manages the back-end servers and related services, and we are not part of the help desk, so we don’t get the first phone call when there is a problem seen by a user. I was in the office (as were other members of our department) the entire day of the snow storm, and actually dealt with this particular issue. There are two things I want to make clear: first, we did not know about the problem right away; and second, the entire e-mail system was not down.
At 9:42 a.m., our department received a phone call about the problem, and we started to work on the issue. At 10:21 a.m., the problem was resolved.
The statement “Amherst e-mail was not available” is not a fair statement. The problem, that we found and resolved, affected approximately 90 student mailboxes. That is a very small number compared to the over 5,000 mailboxes we provide.
I believe we resolved the problem in a very timely manner.
I understand how important e-mail communication is, especially on a day with a huge snowstorm. However, I also feel it is important that the Amherst community knows how hard we work to prevent these issues and that we were indeed on campus and resolved the issue in a very timely fashion. This particular issue was unique in that it went undetected by us, despite the extensive set of early notification systems we have. Most importantly, I would like to ensure that the community understands that this was not a complete e-mail outage, and was limited to a small set of students. Staff, faculty and the majority of students never lost access to e-mail.