Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia sites may be intermittently inaccessible through Jan. 24, as the company transitions its production operations to another data center in Ashburn, Virginia.
“Engineering teams have been preparing for the migration to minimize inconvenience to our users, but major service disruption is still expected during the transition,” Guillaume Paumier, technical communications manager for The Wikimedia Foundation, wrote in a blog post.
The sites themselves may be in read-only mode, and occasionally inaccessible, the Foundation warned. Downtimes will likely occur during the period of transition, which will take place during all three days from 17:00 to 1:00 UTC, or from noon to 8 PM on the East Coast.
Wikimedia already operates the facility in Ashburn, Virginia, to which it began transitioning in Feb. 2011, and began serving media files from the site last April. Last August, however, Wikipedia suffered an outage after a fiber link between its data centers in Ashburn and Tampa, Florida was unexpectedly cut, leaving the sites down for about two hours. That’s because the site still relied on the Tampa facility for both Apache and MySQL database access, including all edits made to Wikipedia pages.
Beginning Jan. 22, the Ashburn facility will be brought on board as the primary data center for the Wikimedia sites, Wikimedia said: “The legacy data center in Tampa will continue to be maintained, and will serve as a secondary ‘hot failover’ data center: servers will be in standby mode to take over, should the primary site experience an outage.”
Tampa wouldn’t have necessarily been the first choice of sites to house the Wikimedia servers, but the site was physically close to founder Jimmy Wales’ home. In 2009, Wikimedia began searching out additional locations and settled on Ashburn.
Eventually, Wikimedia’s Test/Dev Labs product hopes to publish a clone of of the company’s production cluster, which will run a branch of the Puppet repository maintained by Wikimedia. Staff and community developers, along with staff and community operations engineers, will be able to push changes to the test branch of the Puppet repository, which will manage the cloned cluster. Eventually, those developers will be able to push these changes for review to the production branch of the Puppet repository, where staff operations engineers will then code-review the changes and push them out to the production systems.
Wikipedia originally launched in 2001. Today, Wikimedia operates 885 servers in total, serving 20 billion page views per month, including its latest wiki-based travel site, WikiTravel.