UPDATE: The University of Georgia sent an Archnews email on Jan. 8 apologizing for the “disruption” students experienced on eLearning Commons and Athena on Jan. 7.
In the email, Timothy Chester, the UGA vice president for information technology, said UGA also “regret[s]” the performance issues students faced when registering for classes last November.
“The interruption yesterday was caused by the inability of our new Single Sign-On Service to handle the intense network load of first day of class traffic,” Chester said in the email. “While this application was performance tested last fall, it was not capable of handling the combined traffic of OneSource, OneUSG Connect, Athena, and eLC starting at around 9 a.m. yesterday.”
He said the system was once again operable by 1 p.m. on Jan. 7.
In November, UGA Enterprise Information Technology Services experienced “complex” issues with Athena and worked over the holiday break with consultants to conduct network load tests, according to the email. This was done in hopes to “isolate” the problem.
Chester said updates to Athena included “information security-related changes” that may have decreased the “performance capability” of the software.
Chester said UGA is “confident” it can avoid a similar situation during early course registration in March and April.
“We apologize for the disruption you have experienced during these two episodes. The organizations I am responsible for are taking this as a teachable moment so we can better ensure these failures do not happen again,” Chester said in the email.
On Jan. 7, the commencement of the spring semester at the University of Georgia, students were unable to log in to Athena and eLearning Commons. Unable to see her classroom numbers on Athena, Jeanette Beltran-Chavez searched each door on each level of Gilbert Hall for class descriptions.
“I had to eavesdrop into classrooms and try to recognize my professor’s voice to confirm I was in the right class,” Beltran-Chavez, a sophomore political science and international affairs double major, said.
UGA Enterprise Information Technology Services reported an issue impacting its Central Authentication Service CAS on its website on Jan. 7 at 9:25 a.m. EITS later announced it was working with its Single Sign-On Service vendor to fix the issue. Students use SSO to authenticate their UGA accounts on Athena, eLC and other websites.
Students reacted to their log in issues with Athena on Twitter asking for the extension of the add-drop period. Quin Thomas, a sophomore political science major, recommended the university offer the extension for those who missed class due to the shutdown.
Since Athena wanna be down today UGA needs to add another day to add drop week— Caleb Kelly (@CKelzz) January 7, 2020
Professors post class syllabi on eLC, which was also unusable during the day — for Keith Schroeder this was “extremely frustrating.”
“How a university that has over 30,000 students can have their most essential online service shutdown during a critical time period in the semester is unacceptable,” Schroeder, a senior exercise and sports science major said.
On Twitter, EITS promoted an alternative to Athena such as using the full list of classes on the UGA Registrar website to find classroom numbers and building codes. If students needed directions to an exact building, EITS recommended downloading the UGA app and relying on the campus map provided.
Beltran-Chavez utilized EITS’ instructions and found the rest of her classes throughout the day.
By 1:31 p.m., EITS announced on its website the SSO system was operable and all UGA applications should be accessible.
UGA and EITS did not respond to The Red & Black's requests for comment as of press time.