The web site of the BBC experienced performance problems Thursday around the time it began using the Akamai content delivery network to handle its DNS management, according to Netcraft. Until yesterday, the BBC had been self-hosted in a data center at the Docklands in London. (See the end of the post for a follow-up from The BBC.)
“For some periods today, the BBC News website had resolved to IP addresses belonging to Akamai, while other times it had either been pointed back to BBC Internet Services at Docklands, or did not resolve at all, thus leaving the site completely inaccessible,” Netcraft reports.
At times the BBC web site displayed error messages (“No suitable nodes are available to serve your request”) or continually redirected requests back to news.bbc.co.uk, “causing an infinite redirection loop which would have added to the load on the servers,” Netcraft reported.
As of late Thursday night, the DNS for bbc.co.uk was hosted at the BBC’s own servers. The BBC site had more than 18.6 million unique visitors in August 2007.
UPDATE: “Although the investigations aren’t fully complete, our technical team has confirmed the problems were triggered by a routine software deployment that had unforeseen consequences,” the BBC said in a statement on its web site. “To those who had trouble getting onto the site yesterday – apologies – nothing is more important to us than the reliability and resilience of our services and we are taking another hard look at our deployment, contingency and back up procedures.” It wasn’t clear whether the BBC’s use of Akamai’s DNS was a factor in the problems or an attempted solution.