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Turnitin – an apology for recent disruption

May 17, 2012

In common with a lot of UK Universities, for us Turnitin is becoming a key part of the assessment process for more and more courses. In general it’s a reliable system, but recently there have been a range of intermittent problems, including complete service unavailability on a couple of occasions. I know from contacts with e-learning managers at other institutions that there has been growing discontent with the reliability of the Turnitin service, and an apparent decline in the responsiveness of their (normally very helpful) support team.

Turnitin are clearly aware of the problems, and we have today received the following message:

Dear Turnitin UK Users,

Turnitin is a mission-critical service for many of our customers. Providing reliable service is of paramount importance for our company.

We strive to maintain 99.9% service uptime in all geographies, and over the past 2 years we’ve exceeded this goal, until this May—when we experienced a significant day long outage, followed by several hours of downtime a few days later. The outages were due to a combination of both a database issue and a new and very high “burst” type of submission pattern from several large UK customers.

I apologize for these outages, and please know that our top priority is making changes to avoid similar outages in the future. Over the past 10 days we have increased our database capacity by over 600% for the UK service and modified the way the service deals with this emerging “burst” pattern of use.

Another goal is to have Turnitin’s customer support as one of our strengths when our customers think about Turnitin. Over the past few terms we’ve experienced very high growth in both service usage and support requests—driven primarily by questions from new users to our service. This increased service usage has at times resulted in less timely responses from our support staff than we target, and I again apologize if this has caused issues for your staff.

We recently implemented a “follow the sun” support model where cases from all of our worldwide customers are jointly managed by our support teams in the US and UK, almost around the clock, and this model has been rapidly getting us back to the under 24-hour response time we target for the majority of cases.

We’re also building more and more self-help into the service, so as many questions as possible can be answered in real-time, and our instructors can get their work done as quickly as possible. Look for more and more of this in our service in the months to come.

I will be visiting the UK this July for the 5th International Plagiarism Conference where I’ll be connecting with Turnitin users to answer any questions directly. I hope you’ll join me there.

Thanks for your continued partnership, and again my apologies for the service issues this past month.

Sincerely,

Chris Caren
CEO, Turnitin

(this message can also be found at http://pages.turnitin.com/remarks_0512uk.html)

 

We must hope that the company are able to back up these words with an improvement in the service provided.

 

In a linked development, Turnitin have also launched a new Turnitin System Status page and Twitter feed allowing users to check whether there are known issues with system performance.

 

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