Matthew Reidsma

Work Notes

Updates from the GVSU Libraries’ Web Team.
Archive // Subscribe: EmailRSS

Sluggishness and Downtime from Last Week Resolved

You may have noticed some sluggishness on the library’s online systems last week. LibGuides, Summon, the Database A-Z list, 360Link, and the catalog were all having trouble loading the files I’ve created to customize and improve the vendor user interfaces. These files are all hosted on a virtual server which we rent from Dreamhost, a commercial hosting company. The library doesn’t have any actual web servers on campus to support the work of our team, and so we’ve been hosting our tools off-site for a few years. Unfortunately, the number of customizations and tools that we’ve built to make our users’ experience of the library better was too much for our servers, and we were experiencing repeated server crashes from the demand. The digital displays throughout the Mary Idema Pew library, the statistics gathering tools used by UX and that run automatically in the background letting us know how folks use our spaces, the customization scripts that modify almost a dozen commercial tools as well as our home-grown applications like the status app were causing our lone production server to run out of memory regularly.

Kyle, Mary, and I all did a lot of troubleshooting and tinkering this week to try to remedy the problem, but we realized that this wasn’t necessarily about problematic code: we didn’t find places that memory was leaking, or that were consuming too much memory. This was simply a matter of resources. Our infrastructure could no longer handle the demands we have been putting on it.

We’ve upgraded our server’s memory to hopefully avoid these downtime problems in the future, but as we adopt and create more online tools, the problem may return. Thanks to the folks who sent in emails and problem reports this week when the going was tough. Please be sure to let us know if things get sluggish for you again, and we’ll do our best to keep things running smoothly.