Vanderbilt email system returns to functioning as normal

IT technicians are working to deliver queued messages following a period in which students could not send emails to addresses outside the Vanderbilt network

Updated March 8 at 6:55 p.m.

Undergraduate students are now able to access emails that were not properly delivered to their inboxes during a 30-hour time period this week. The messages will soon be delivered to their inboxes, but are currently available via a temporary Exchange Online account, which students received information about via email Wednesday evening.

Tuesday morning, the Hustler began receiving reports of undergraduate students unable to send emails to individuals outside of the Vanderbilt network. Undergraduates did not receive external emails between 5:00 p.m. on March 5 and 11:00 p.m. March 6, according to Kelly McGill-Barrett, Associate Director in VUIT Relationship Management.

VUIT partner support worked with the Collaboration Services team, who administers the Vanderbilt email service, to determine the cause of the problem and resolve it quickly.

“We’ve escalated it to the team that administers that kind of thing,” a partner support team member said Tuesday. “Given the widespread rate of people who have been affected, it seems to be high priority.”

Students received an email message about the outage Tuesday night.

“On March 5, at approximately 5:00 p.m., VUIT identified an issue regarding undergraduate student email delivery,” the email said. “Emails that are sent to VU Gmail accounts from non-Vanderbilt email addresses are not being delivered.  These emails are not lost but are being held in queue for delivery. VUIT technicians are working to resolve the issue and deliver all queued email. This issue does not affect internal Vanderbilt email delivery.”

Wednesday morning, a Vanderbilt IT Helpdesk representative told the Hustler that the issue was resolved, and that the email team was working on a plan to help students receive the email messages that were sent during the time they were experiencing errors.

Around 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, VUIT sent students information about how to access undelivered messages using an interim Exchange Online account, which will be disabled once the delayed messages are sent to students’ inboxes. Around 11 a.m. on Thursday, VUIT began the process of delivering the undelivered mail to student inboxes using Google Data Migration Service (GDMS) after consulting with Google and Microsoft tech support teams.

“Students will be notified as we start sending their mail and will be notified when the process is complete,” McGill-Barrett said. “Once delivered, the messages will appear in the Gmail inbox, marked as unread, and will appear as being delivered at the original time (not today).”

While the delay in delivery of messages during this time period itself was not planned, it occurred as a result of a planned configuration change.

“This issue was the result of a configuration change, planned to occur during spring break, to ready our systems for future migration to cloud services,” McGill-Barrett said.

If students have any questions or concerns about the situation, they can contact the VUIT Tech Hub at (615) 343-1631.

Editor’s Note: This article will be updated as the Hustler receives more information on the resolution of this issue. This article previously included the names of the representatives, but they have been retracted to protect the identity of those providing services. A previous version of this article said that students were unable to send emails to those outside the Vanderbilt network, but outgoing mail was always operational; only incoming mail was impacted.