BBC Knocked Offline by Network Failure

Last night, The BBC suffered an outage that knocked its entire web domain down for an hour.

BBC News editor Steve Herrmann said the sites were down for a full hour, but came back live at about midnight. "We haven't yet had a full technical debrief, but it's clear it was a major network problem," he said in a post on the BBC blog.

A BBC news report said Siemens, which provides the broadcaster's IT support, got the sites back online by powering down equipment and turning it back on again.

The BBC's controller for digital distribution, Richard Cooper, has today issued an explanation to the outage, saying multiple failures knocked the sites offline.

"Our systems are designed to be sufficiently resilient (multiple systems, and multiple data centres) to make an outage like this extremely unlikely," he said in a blog post. However, I'm afraid that last night we suffered multiple failures, with the result that the whole site went down."

"For the more technically minded, this was a failure in the systems that perform two functions," he added. "The first is the aggregation of network traffic from the BBC's hosting centres to the internet. The second is the announcement of 'routes' onto the internet that allows BBC Online to be 'found.' With both of these having failed, we really were down."

The outage stirred up many rumours to the cause, with users taking to Twitter to suggesting more dramatic causes, including a distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack by Anonymous.

"It's not often we get a message from the BBC's technical support teams saying, 'Total outage of all BBC websites'," Herrmann said.

"We'd like to apologise to everyone who couldn't get onto the BBC News website during that time," he added.

He said the BBC would take a "hard look" at its systems to ensure such a fault didn't happen again.

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