After a turbulent month, we (the AoL webteam), with fingers firmly crossed, believe that AoL is now properly established on new servers and seems to be running better and faster than ever.
It appears that when we changed over to the new version of the website in December, the initial results were pretty good, but it then became rapidly apparent that the new system was putting some stresses and strains onto the servers we were using that eventually led to the service degrading and slowing down dramatically and eventually losing some important functionality, especially where photos were concerned.
The decision was taken to move the whole shooting match across the world to run on Google servers in Seattle in the USA. Although in some ways this was technically a fairly simple operation, it was an organisational nightmare for a couple of weeks and we must apologise to our readers for the chaos that ensued during the first half of January. Our main technical resource, if not "sleepless in Seattle", was certainly sleepless in Hankelow for several days.
Readers may be interested to know that ThenMedia, the Audlem (now Hankelow) based company that provides the software for over 250 websites of all shapes and sizes, often uses AudlemOnline as a test bed for development of new techniques and ideas. In return we get unrivalled input into the detailed design of a superb piece of software for next to nothing.
But, of course, we are the guinea pigs for the new developments.
As far as the webteam is concerned this just adds a certain frisson to our efforts – never a dull moment as they say.
So we have now moved the revamped AoL software and database back across the world from Seattle to the Google servers in London (which Google, rather endearingly, still refers to as Western Europe – have they not heard of Brexit?).
Although the system as a whole is up and running as well or better than ever as far as we can tell, we now have a list of detailed points to be sorted out. We must, in fairness, allow ThenMedia time and space to bring their other customers into line, but we expect by the end of next month to start addressing the "nice-to-haves" list on the AoL system.
So a thank you to all our readers for putting up with the vagaries of the system over the last month – perhaps it is a consolation to know that we are right out in the front line of what was first described in 1963 as the "white heat of technology".
As always, there is one small caveat to all this – for the moment the AoL website has the whole of the lovely new Google server to itself. As the rest of the ThenMedia customers' sites are migrated across, we will of course be sharing the resource with them. This may mean that the system response will not continue to be as lightning quick as it seems to be now, but all our calculations suggest that it will still be better, probably much better, than it was before.