Axess Outage: Message to the Campus Community
Last night, our systems supporting class registration suffered a major outage that resulted in the disruption of class enrollment. I deeply apologize for the major impact this had during what is already a stressful time for our students. I also recognize this is not the first time that we have experienced system issues during registration.
Let me explain what happened and our next steps. Our student system infrastructure consists of three technology tiers: the user-facing Axess web portal, the middle tier of application servers, and the underlying legacy student information system. Given the recent upgrade to the Axess portal, University IT significantly expanded the computing capacity of the web tier, where we have previously experienced capacity issues. The Sept. 1 registration outage was the result of the underlying tiers being overwhelmed by this increased throughput from the web portal. Our testing of the new environment did not adequately simulate the impact across each of these technology tiers.
We understandably receive questions about why these capacity constraints happen more at Stanford as compared to larger universities who have similar legacy student systems. Unlike most universities, Stanford does not broadly stagger registration windows and thereby smooth the registration process. Consequently, our system load at the open of registration is much higher than what you would see at universities with far more students.
Stepping back and reviewing both the technical and administrative processes related to registration is a priority to be discussed with the University Registrar in consultation with the Committee on Academic Computing and Information Systems (C-ACIS) this fall. University IT will also be working to ensure we have a better approach for simulating peak registration loads in advance of each registration cycle. This was an unacceptable outage, and I deeply regret the impact it caused.
University Chief Information Officer