Datacentre fault knocks BBC iPlayer offline


Millions of users were left unable to access BBC services earlier this week because of failures at two of the broadcaster's datacentres.

The crash happened late Wednesday evening. Users to the main website were greeted with an error message: "We are experiencing abnormal traffic to our network or the service or servers it is on is not currently available."

We are working hard to make sure that the causes of the issue are addressed.

According to Richard Cooper, controller of digital distribution at BBC Future Media, the fault was caused by a failure of the traffic managers in both its datacentres.

"These traffic managers are a critical part of our infrastructure, responsible for handling all requests to the site, and routing those requests to the right servers," said Cooper.

"They are designed to be highly reliable, and have served us very well to date."

The site started to fail just after 8pm and by 8.25pm was down completely. It was offline until 9.10pm. By half past nine the site was back up, but it wasn't until 10.10pm that all its operations were back to normal.

Cooper said the BBC was still investigating the issue and he apologised for the inconvenience the outage caused.

"We are working hard to make sure that the causes of the issue are addressed, and that this does not happen again," said Cooper.

The outage coincided with another problem on the BBC news website that caused it to include month-old stories in its most popular section. It is not known if the two problems were related.

The outage is not the first the BBC has suffered this year. In March, the website went offline for nearly five hours due to a failure in the aggregation of network traffic from the BBC's hosting centres to the internet.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.