BBC News Knocked Offline by Performance Changes

The BBC News website has been suffering outages today while its hosting location fluctuated between BBC Internet Services and the Akamai web application acceleration and performance management service.

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For many users this afternoon, the front page of the BBC News site has been slow to respond, often displaying error messages such as "No suitable nodes are available to serve your request" and "an error occurred while processing this directive". Other users found that requests to news.bbc.co.uk caused the server to continually redirect their request back to news.bbc.co.uk, causing an infinite redirection loop which would have added to the load on the servers.

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Today's performance problems coincide with apparent moves to and from the Akamai content distribution network. Prior to today, the news.bbc.co.uk site had been self-hosted by BBC Internet Services in Docklands, London.

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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.

Akamai transparently mirrors content stored on web servers and users then access the content from these instead of the origin server. By automatically picking a mirror server that is near to the user, performance is generally increased while decreasing the load on the origin server.

Update: Steve Herrmann, editor of the BBC News website, has published a blog article about the site problems.