FAQ: Planned dotMailer downtime — Saturday 14 July 2012

About this FAQ

This FAQ contains important information about planned upgrade work which will result in dotMailer downtime with impact on your contacts.

What is happening?

On Saturday 14 July 2012 we will be performing some system upgrades (moving to a new database server) which will result in our database and services being unavailable for up to 4 hours between 11am and 3pm  UK time (10:00 – 14:00 UTC).

Why do I need to know?

During this time many of our services will be unavailable – most notably the following:

More detail is given below later in this FAQ.

What do I need to do?

  • Please read this FAQ thoroughly.
  • Take this upgrade into account when planning your campaigns for the next couple of weeks. It may be advisable to reschedule campaigns, or to disable tracking, to avoid clicks on broken links during the system downtime.

1. How will my access to services be affected?

1.1. dotMailer

During this period the dotMailer application will be completely unavailable; you will not be able to log in to the service.

1.2. dotMailer API

The dotMailer API will be unavailable during this upgrade work.

1.3. dotSurvey

dotSurvey will be unavailable during this upgrade work.

While dotSurvey operates on a different database; login credentials are shared with dotMailer.

1.4. Lead Vision

Lead Vision will be unavailable during this upgrade work.

1.5. Support forums

Our support forums for dotMailer, dotSurvey and dotCommerce will be online during the system downtime. It may not be possible to log in to the support forums.

1.6. Facebook application

The Facebook application will not be accessible during this upgrade work.

1.7. dotCommerce

Our self-service dotCommerce application will be unavailable during this upgrade work.

Shops built by our agency team using our enterprise level dotCommerce platform will be unaffected by this upgrade (except where there is integration to dotMailer).

1.8. dotEditor

Websites built using dotEditor, our CMS platform, will be unaffected by this upgrade  (except where there is integration to dotMailer).

2. How will my contacts and campaigns be affected?

2.1. Emails content and rendering

Campaigns that have already been sent to your contacts will continue to be readable. Images will download and will be displayed as normal.

2.2. Links in emails

For a period during the system upgrade, links in emails will cause an error.

The following error will be displayed:

Down for planned maintenance
Our technology partners are currently working on planned system enhancements. Please bear with us and try again in a few hours.

down_for_maintenance_600px.png

Links which are set to “do not track” will be unaffected – these will link straight through to the link specified.

do_not_track.png

If you have campaigns with critical links that must work during this period, it may be advisable to remove tracking from these links.

2.3. Unsubscribe links

Like other links, these will not be accessible during the system upgrade. Users will see the error message detailed above (see 2.2. Links in emails).

2.4. Forward to a friend links

Like other links, these will not be accessible during the system upgrade. Users will see the error message detailed above (see 2.2. Links in emails).

2.5. “Can’t read / View in browser” links

Like other links, these will not be accessible during the system upgrade. Users will see the error message detailed above (see 2.2. Links in emails).

2.6. Sign up forms (including forms using the Facebook application)

Sign up forms to add new contacts to your address books will not work during this system upgrade. Users will see the error message detailed above (see 2.2. Links in emails).

2.7. Replies to campaigns

Replies to campaigns will continue to be received; these will be processed and available in your account shortly after the completion of the upgrade work.

2.8. Surveys

Surveys built using our classic survey tool will not be available during the upgrade work. Users will see the error message detailed above (see 2.2. Links in emails).

Surveys built using dotSurvey will be available and will collect responses without interruption. Survey response data that would normally be written to dotMailer will remain in dotSurvey but will not be written to dotMailer. Users will see the error message detailed above.

2.9. Microsites

Pages built using our microsite tool will not be accessible. Users will see the error message detailed above (see 2.2. Links in emails).

2.10. SMS unsubscribe

SMS unsubscribe requests will be honoured. The opt-outs will take effect shortly after the completion of the upgrade work.

2.11. Scheduled sends

All scheduled sends due to be sent during the system downtime will be sent shortly after the system comes back online.

2.12. ReMails

All scheduled sends due to be sent during the system downtime will be sent shortly after the system comes back online.

As “opens” will not be recorded (see section 3. What will be the effect on reporting data?), contacts opening emails during the system downtime will not be considered as having read the email and may receive your ReMail campaign.

2.13. Triggered campaigns

In most cases campaign triggers due to run during the system downtime will not be processed (some campaign triggers which would have been due to run close to the end of the system downtime will run).

2.14. Site and ROI tracking

Webpages using our Site and ROI tracking will continue to function (although the tracking will not function).

2.15. dotCommerce shops

Shops built using our self-service dotCommerce application will be available and will accept orders and payments during the upgrade work. Triggered emails written in dotCommerce, such as Order Confirmations, will be sent. Where triggered emails are set to use dotMailer campaigns, these will not be sent.

Shops built by our agency team using our enterprise level dotCommerce platform will be unaffected by this upgrade (except where there is integration to dotMailer).

2.16. Websites

Websites built by our agency team will be unaffected by this upgrade (except where there is integration to dotMailer).

3. What will be the effect on reporting data?

For a period of the upgrade work no tracking data will be recorded.

    • Email opens will not be recorded
    • Clicks in emails will not be recorded (and will not link through - see 2.2. Links in emails).
    • Site and ROI tracking will not be recorded

No campaigns will be sent during the downtime; as such there will be no interference with bounce data.

4. What differences will I see?

Nothing. Really, after all that, nothing.

Okay then – we’re upgrading our hardware and, thanks to the increased processing power, many aspects of the system will run faster. In normal day-to-day use, you won’t see any change. These improvements will, however, make way for a number of data intensive features such as benchmarking statistics, improved data segmentation, searching and data mining.

All data and features will, after the upgrade, be in the same condition as before but on better underlying technology.

5. You’ve said four hours, do you really mean it?

Okay, here’s the thing. We don’t expect it to take four hours; we will be working to keep the actual downtime to an absolute minimum.

You should, however, plan for four hours downtime.

6. What are the plans if something doesn’t go as expected?

We have been running a series of tests on the new hardware and project and will continue to run tests up to and after the upgrade on 14th July; should there be any unexpected events which lead to us postponing the upgrade, we will always give you at least 14 days’ notice of the revised date.

We have set a limit of four hours on the day of the actual upgrade; if there are any problems with the new system that arise on the day that cannot be resolved within the four hour window, then we will revert to the old database. No data will be lost and we will restore the system to its state before the upgrade began.

7. How can I find out more information?

If we have any further information to share before the upgrade takes place, then these will be announced in our user form.

You will be able to follow our progress on the day on our Twitter feed.  We will (as usual) be using the hashtag #dMmaint if you wish to filter for just our maintenance tweets.

8. Who will be doing this upgrade work?

The crack team (fuelled by tea and doughnuts) performing this operation will include:

ja_small.pngJohn Adkins — Head of Product Development
One of our longest standing team members, this is John’s tenth year at dotMailer.  Apparently he remembers when dotMailer was nothing but fields.

ag_small.pngAndrew Gretton — Senior dotMailer Developer
Designated team cynic, Andrew is the one who comes up with all the technical reasons why many things are impossible. Fortunately the database move isn’t one of them.

tj_small.jpgTrefor James — Head of Systems Architecture
Heading up the team responsible for our systems infrastructure, Tref can typically be found in the server room, meetings, or a pub. Tref has been voted member of management most likely to become a supervillain.

gk_small.jpgGraham Kent — Enterprise Architect
Relatively recent addition to the dotMailer team, Graham is our resident outdoor enthusiast and caffeine junkie; this database move is his project – so he’d better make sure there is cake for us all on the day.

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Comments

  • Avatar

    Hi there,

    Please could you give examples of what you mean by the following:

    Benchmarking statistics, data mining

    Ta!

  • Avatar

    Hi Claire,

    Data mining would be building on the existing work on data segments; so comparing and identifying trends between different  sets of data segmented by datafields and behaviour.

    The benchmarking is something you may have seen the beginning of already; we're looking at ways of exposing how your opens, sends, click-through-rates, etc. compare to other email marketers in your sector.

    Here's a concept sketch for the kind of thing you might see — in this the blue line is the click-through rate for each of your campaigns, and the green line is the anonymously aggregated stats for your sector (e.g. Retail or Manufacturing). Once we've got enough sector specific data we'll be able to start sharing this.

    benchmarking_chart.PNG

    Best wishes,

    Stoo

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