Server crash affects thousands of ATMC customers

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By Staff Report

An ATMC switch between Webmail portals Wednesday, April 30, created a “perfect storm” that led to a catastrophic server crash, leaving about 10 percent of ATMC’s customers without email service.

Jody Heustess, ATMC’s marketing manager, said two previous switches, with the most recent one taking place six years ago, to an updated portal with another company went seamlessly. Testing before Wednesday’s switch also went well, which left ATMC unprepared to deal with this “worst-case scenario” affecting 2,500 to 2,800 of its customers with an atmc.net email address.

The new portal company’s server, which authenticated information for ATMC email users and ATMC customers who use services like Microsoft Outlook, crashed about 8 a.m. Wednesday, Heustess said.

The problem was compounded when customers who found themselves locked out of their email accounts continued trying to log in or change their user names and passwords in response to an error message, Heustess said. As a result, their email clients locked them out to protect their security.

“For normal issues, we have more than enough people on staff that can handle the issues we see. However, when you have a catastrophic outage of this proportion, it’s tough to add enough people instantly to handle such a high volume of calls,” he said via email. “We currently have close to 70 technicians in our Level One and Level Two tech support groups working with customers to get their issues resolved.  We will have technicians available round the clock until everyone has been helped.”

Although some customers can now log into their webmail, some of their messages are missing. Now that the server is functioning again, however, it is just a matter of time before email access and all messages are restored as it is in the process of transferring customers’ data, Heustess said.

“This is unprecedented,” he said. “(But) we’re trying to help them get back in.”

Heustess said he expects that by midday Friday, May 2, service to all of the affected customers will be restored.