The Congress is blowing fuses — the electrical kind
October 10th, 2008

The chaos on Capitol Hill these days includes breakdowns related to the public electronic mobbings of their Washington representatives. Although the fellow in charge says not all the crashes are related to the current crisis, more energy efficient servers are needed to handle electronic relations between politicians and their increasing input from the public. Politico reports today:

House e-mail accounts have been down since Thursday night, frustrating congressional aides on both sides of the aisle.

The shutdown, which also affects BlackBerrys, was the result of an overloaded circuit breaker at one of the data centers that processes e-mail and other Internet services, meaning it was an electrical problem and not related to an overflow of outside e-mail traffic, according to a letter from Chief Administrative Office Daniel P. Beard.

The system suffered a massive slowdown last week after the House defeated an initial version of the bailout bill, sending financial markets into a tailspin and prompting frustrated constituents to flood servers and phone lines.

“This recent outage has nothing to do with the slowdowns experienced with House.gov, which have been attributed to an enormous flow of emails from constituents surrounding the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008,” Beard wrote members and aides on Friday.

Computer engineers with the CAO’s office have worked “around the clock to resolve this issue,” Beard wrote. “The outage is anticipated to be repaired some time today.”

In addition, these engineers are working to fortify the current system with new equipment to boost the power supply in an effort to prevent future shutdowns, but Beard argues the system is currently overburdened by increased demands for bandwidth. He plans to recommend infrastructure improvements in the coming months to prevent future outages.

“Initial analysis of the situation confirms what systems engineers have suspected for some time: more energy efficient servers are needed within the House’s computing infrastructure,” Beard wrote. “By reducing the amount of energy the House’s computing currently demands, and by creating electrical backup systems, I am confident we will greatly diminish outages like this from happening again.”


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