We have today received the following note from TurnItIn UK about the severe disruption experienced by students attempting to submit work last week.

We wanted to share with you more detail about the cause of the service disruption that impacted many of our UK users last week. We deeply regret any inconvenience this disruption caused you, your instructors and students. We want to be as forthcoming as possible as to the causes and steps we are taking to prevent similar disruptions in the future.
The service disruption began around 10 am GMT on the morning of Monday, December 9th. Turnitin System Operations and Engineering teams in both the United States and United Kingdom immediately began following protocols to troubleshoot the system and identify the cause of the problem.
The Turnitin team identified the cause as a database issue relating to i/o (input/output) write activity in the database. Specifically, the Turnitin databases experienced extremely heavy i/o activity on Turnitin’s master database which strained system resources and eventually degraded system performance. We were able to fix the problem by quadrupling capacity to the database systems and adding additional web servers to ensure system capacity returned to normal.
In reviewing the causes of the disruption and the process our team followed to correct it, we wanted to share with you actions we are planning to take:

  • Turnitin will conduct a full review of current system monitoring capabilities and will invest even more in monitoring systems to proactively identify and resolve issues that might impact the availability of the service.
  • The Turnitin Architecture Steering Group will perform more frequent system audits, performance tuning and capacity planning reviews to ensure the service achieves levels of performance above our stated goal of 99.9% uptime.
  • Turnitin CEO Chris Caren will travel to the United Kingdom in early 2014 to meet with UK administrators and customers at the February 12th user group to discuss steps to improve system performance and availability.

Please know that we take service disruptions with the utmost seriousness and that we are committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure that the Turnitin service is available for use at all times.

The Turnitin Team