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Technical 'Double Whammy' caused BBC online to fold over the weekend

The BBC's flagship service was down over the weekend
The BBC has provided insight into what happened to its online services over the weekend: two problems occured on Saturday morning which resulted in users unable to access different parts of the BBC's website, including the BBC homepage and iPlayer for up to 48 hours.

Richard Cooper, the BBC's Controller of Digital Distribution for BBC Future Media told blog readers that the exact "root causes" of the  fault is still being investigated, so that measures can be put in place "to minimise the chances of such interruptions in the future".

Providing a timeline of the problems, he explained: "At 9.30 on Saturday morning (19th July 2014) the load on the database went through the roof, meaning that many requests for metadata to the application servers started to fail."

"At almost the same time we had a second problem. We use a caching layer in front of most of the products on BBC Online, and one of the pools failed. The products managed by that pool include BBC iPlayer and the BBC homepage, and the failure made all of those products inaccessible."

"Restoring the metadata service was complex. Isolating the source of the additional load proved to be far from straightforward, and restoring the service itself is not as simple as rebooting it (turning it off and on again is the ultimate solution to most problems)."

"After that work was complete we were in a walking wounded state that allowed close to normal operation for much of the site, though BBC iPlayer remained down on a number of devices."

The problems also reportedly affected users of catch up and connected red button services on Virgin Media. Users took to social media to complain about the lack of information provided by the BBC.

Missed opportunities
It's also been confirmed that programmes that expired during the fault will not be restored to give users a belated chance to catch-up.

Contractually, the BBC is currently restricted to how long it can offer a catch-up for, especially in the case of sports events, although new arrangements to allow a 30 day catch-up window for many programmes are being implemented.


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