AWS Reports Issue Resolved

According Amazon’s Dashboard (screenshot below), the issue which affected some portions of access to course sites in Sakai has been resolved (5:08 EST).

screenshot-2017-02-28-20-08-47

Faculty and students are encouraged to continue to working in Sakai normally. If you experience any issues logging in, accessing course content, submitting grades or assignments, to contact the HelpDesk. Students experiencing issues related to submitting assignments, discussions, tests or quizzes late should contact their course instructor for direction on how to proceed.

 

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What does Amazon have to do with Sakai?

amazonA lot of people seem to be asking this question.  Most students (and faculty) tend to think of Amazon as the online equivalent of Walmart (though Walmart has it’s own online presence) – as just a seller of retail items.  Amazon however is far more.

sticker375x360Amazon not only sells retail items (and space) it also provides internet services or hosting for thousands of companies, institutions and other entities.  This hosting essentially allows and provides easy, fast and often redundant access to content on a global scale through something called a content delivery network.  Essentially through an extreme set of complex algorithms, security and other layers the paper just submitted in your course ‘lives’ on an Amazon web server through their S3 platform (Simple Storage Service). It was most evident to me in my role with the university when I noticed images in courses ‘disappearing’.

Think of it this way. Lets say you’re going to a friends house for dinner – they’re hosting you. They ask you to come over to see them. They even tell you that their niece, Nozama is going to be bringing desert in the form of those great scout cookies you enjoy so much. You arrive on time to the dinner and everything seems to be going just fine until it’s time for desert. Sadly, your friend tells you, Nozama couldn’t bring the cookies just yet, because her parents car had trouble on the way over. Sadly (presently) the cookies you love so much are missing in action.

In some ways you could look at this as the host’s problem is that the host of the cookies is having a problem.  For more on understanding the nuts and bolts of hosts, check out this explainer from CommonCraft.

Course Sites Access – Update

As of 4:20pm EST, the impact of Amazon Web Services (AWS S3) continues to impact online, face to face and blended courses sites in Sakai (http://sakai.johnsonu.edu | https://sakai.lampschools.org).

You can find out more about the AWS S3 issue here.

After further research, the issue not only affected image content in courses – it also affected student’s ability to upload or access files in courses – including but not limited to, access to course syllabi, files in course Resources, upload of assignments as attachments, entry of forum and blog posts and and submission of assignments. Other areas may have also been affected as well.

What does Amazon have to do with Sakai anyways?

While it’s expected that the issue will be resolved soon, instructors are asked to use discretion when accepting assignments and other grade-impacting tasks which rely on electronic submission via Sakai. While not preferable, some instructors may decide to correspond with students via standard email about changes/adjustments to assignment submission processes due to the AWS issue, including extending the due or accept until date(s). Instructor’s ability to access student submissions, files and related gradable digital content is also an issue in some cases.

Students are encouraged to create and author content using an offline editor (such as in Word or Pages) and save their work so they have a back up and can potentially submit their work later or using a different means.

Instructors and students can continue to check the JohnsonU_Online Twitter feed for continued updates on this issue. Additional status update information is available directly from Amazon here.