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Network Maintenance

southerner
Aspiring Pro
Posts: 524
Thanks: 48
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Registered: ‎27-11-2013

Network Maintenance

It seems nearly every working day there are many reported hours of network maintenance going on where changes are being made to the network during which time customers could be disconnected. Is this normal? It doesn't sound too good to me unless I'm missing something?
8 REPLIES
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 13,045
Thanks: 4,336
Fixes: 26
Registered: ‎22-08-2007

Re: Network Maintenance

Depends on what you mean by normal.
Is it normal to have so much maintenance?  Well that depends on what is happening at any given time.  There is no indication of why the maintenance is or why it is needed.  From time to time networks need to be expanded and possibly restructured for performance optimisation.  Hardware components might need upgrading or modification.
Is it normal to do these during core operational hours?  If this were a "normal" commercial operation I doubt we would be seeing this work being done during "office hours" however the bulk of use of the PN network is likely to be outside of office hours.  If there is a lot of similar work required (which it looks like there is) then due to resource availability it might not be possible to schedule staff to enough "dark hours" to complete the work.  If the work is being done by a third party, they might only have "office hours" cover available.
Is it normal that some users might be disconnected?  Well if at the start of the maintenance window there are users connected on or through the systems being maintained, of course they are going to be disconnected.  However given the limited description of the works, I would guess that this relates to gateways and / or their onward connections.  Being dropped from a gateway would simply result in an attempt to establish a new PPP session which would be serviced by anyone of the other gateway servers.

Pure speculation: I guess this is a series of maintenance activities on the Juniper BNG gateways (being performed by Juniper staff) which have been somewhat temperamental over the last 6 months.
Community Veteran
Posts: 19,102
Thanks: 443
Fixes: 21
Registered: ‎31-08-2007

Re: Network Maintenance

If it weren't for the fact that the work is every day this week (that is unusual), I may have guessed the same and that it was to do with the bng gateways. However as some of the work is in office hours and the extent of the work this week, it could be more widespread.
To be blunt though, I am sick and tired of the dumbed down information in these Service Notices. I have previously politely commented about the absence of more specific information - namely which Gateways are going/likely to be affected. Plusnet seem to forget that some users may be doing things of sufficient importance that they do not want a drop in connection, no matter how brief, which for them may have serious implications.
Some users for a variety of reasons may be set up to not re-connect automatically and would want to be aware so that they can take whatever action is best suited to their needs. Other users of course will not be overly bothered.
Isn't no good Plusnet saying that "oh. the majority of our users won't understand" - so what - they will ignore it all then, unless for some reason they are concerned in which case they will ask. We have the Gateway checker we can explain to them on the forum as well as how to Gateway hop by dropping the PPP session if they need to change Gateway ahead of time to avoid a drop in connection in the maintenance window.
I will not be as restrained the next time I comment about this issue.
southerner
Aspiring Pro
Posts: 524
Thanks: 48
Fixes: 1
Registered: ‎27-11-2013

Re: Network Maintenance

It was probably the amount of maintenance going on this week that drew my attention to this. The odd bit here and there would be normal I imagine to keep the network stable?
Maybe I'm buying into extra information I don't really need to know about subscribing to the network status updates? Do other ISPs frequently carry out similar work but just don't tell their subscribers about it?
I take the point about PlusNet's customer base being mainly evening/weekend users and probably if I want a service reliable for use during office hours I should really subscribe to a business service but I wonder how PlusNet business users get on? Are they maybe ring-fenced to gateways which only have out of hours maintenance windows? It can be very frustrating to get drops when you're trying to work on something online. Not all websites let you save what you've done so far incase of a drop and so when one happens you're back to the start again.
Community Veteran
Posts: 19,102
Thanks: 443
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Registered: ‎31-08-2007

Re: Network Maintenance

Your last point is one of the more critical aspects in relation to my remarks about dumbed down information!
I don't think Business Users are ring-fenced, however in most cases their sys-admins will be able to cope with such situations.
But also note that whilst there are large increases in traffic in the evenings, there are still a considerable number of users using their connections in the daytime.
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 13,045
Thanks: 4,336
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Registered: ‎22-08-2007

Re: Network Maintenance

@Anotherone...
Is this better - http://usertools.plus.net/status/archive/1418923906.htm ?
For those who see this notice, they will know it is unwise to change their password on Friday.  Wonder how the rest of the user base will learn that this would be an unwise action?  Shocked Huh
Kevin
Community Veteran
Posts: 19,102
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Registered: ‎31-08-2007

Re: Network Maintenance

It certainly is NOT any better Kevin, as it's too damned short a notice. 1731 the day before it will happen - NOT GOOD ENOUGH PLUSNET.  Angry
Community Gaffer
Community Gaffer
Posts: 17,682
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Registered: ‎05-04-2007

Re: Network Maintenance

What kind of notice period would you all prefer? We've historically gone for 1 or 2 days before if it's work that won't impact a large number of people as otherwise it can be forgotten about.
The technical information that you'd like in service status posts can be put in to some, but others we need to be more generic about. We also need to ensure the post is able to be understood by the majority of the customers too, hence try to make it clear what the impacts are.
If this post resolved your issue please click the 'This fixed my problem' button
 Chris Parr
 Plusnet Staff
Community Veteran
Posts: 19,102
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Registered: ‎31-08-2007

Re: Network Maintenance

Thanks for your reply Chris.
I think with something such as http://usertools.plus.net/status/archive/1418923906.htm which can have a fairly major impact on the ability of less experienced users or new users to Connect at all, or login to Mail accounts or the Portal, if password changes have been made at the wrong time etc, then several days before hand and a repeat 24 hours before, might be the best sort of approach.
It might also be a good idea to put something like that on the Service Status line, which should reduce the number of calls to CSC if phrased correctly. I fully take your point about being able to be understood by the majority of customers as you know from our previous exchanges on the content of Service Status notices.
I'd suggest that with work such as the example above, where it can be scheduled for a Friday, then an initial announcement would be made on the Monday, with a repeat on Thursday morning.
I do intend to make some suggestions for you about the way these things are worded, but such careful wording requires considerable thought to get the correct balance of technical content, understandability and customer satisfaction & relevant action when needed. So I'm not rushing to do this.