GoDaddy outage disenchants customers

Companies seek other domain name system options after registrar's service hiccup

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When the world's largest domain registrar left some of its smallest businesses in limbo during a six-hour shutdown on Monday, some of those businesses decided to register elsewhere Tuesday.

GoDaddy.com, the world's largest registrar of Internet addresses with more than 53 million domain names, saw millions of those sites go black due to intermittent service outages Monday that lasted from around 1 p.m. until around 7 p.m.

Although representatives of hacktivist group Anonymous claimed responsibility, GoDaddy interim CEO Scott Wagner said in an email Tuesday that the hack was due to "a series of internal network events that corrupted router data tables." Anonymous, the loosely allied group of hackers who attack companies online in protest or support of certain social stances or policies, hacked GoDaddy last year when the Scottsdale, Ariz., company expressed support for the Stop Online Piracy Act.

"The service outage was not caused by external influences. It was not a 'hack' and it was not a denial-of-service attack," Mr. Wagner's email reads.

He said the problem was resolved as soon as possible and extra measures were taken to ensure that it was fixed for good. He emphasized that customer data was never at risk.

Whatever the cause, small business owners may have a difficult time knowing how much potential business was lost during the outage.

Michael Kuhelman, partner with Bridgeville-based domain registrar M2Technology, said companies that used GoDaddy as a registrar may also use it for email service and other areas of overall site operation. "For some companies, it can bring business to a complete halt, it can have a disastrous effect," he said.

Domain name registrars are responsible for managing Internet domain names registered under their brand, while domain name system -- or DNS -- providers convert the digits of an IP address to the text of an actual email address. GoDaddy is one company that provides both services and also does Web hosting for active sites.

ShowClix, a Downtown-based ticket provider that uses the DNS provided by GoDaddy, didn't shut completely down due to the outage, but saw connection issues on some parts of the website.

Spokeswoman Alexis Castorina said in an email Tuesday that the company probably didn't lose too much business thanks to Facebook and Twitter directives sending customers to its call center or to the Showclix.biz address for purchases. However, Showclix won't take any chances on any future GoDaddy outages.

"Our website is not hosted by GoDaddy, but our engineering department has already begun seeking a new primary domain registrar and DNS provider moving forward. Showclix will also take additional steps that will help us be more flexible in the unlikely occurrence of another DNS outage," she wrote in an email.

Phil Anderson, president of East Liberty-based budgeting site budgetsimple.com, said the outage taught his company a tough lesson about broadening its base of operations.

BudgetSimple doesn't use GoDaddy as a host, but is currently using it as its registrar and as its DNS provider. If the company had been using a different registrar, it could have switched its DNS provider and vice versa, avoiding the complete shutdown it experienced Monday.

He said the company will make the switch to Amazon DNS sometime this week.

"Everyone has outages, but if I were directing other startups, I would say get separate DNS providers and registrars so if one goes down you can fix the other," Mr. Anderson said.

Although he couldn't quantify what the company may have lost during the shutdown, one major hit the company took will be to its credibility with new members, Mr. Anderson said.

"Even though we've spent all of this time making a reliable, scalable service, it looks like we're the ones that are shut down," he said.

Mr. Wagner, at GoDaddy, apologized for the inconvenience and told customers in an email statement that the company will do its best to keep them up and running in the manner they've become accustomed to.

"Throughout our history, we have provided 99.999 percent uptime in our DNS infrastructure. This is the level our customers expect from us and the level we expect of ourselves," he wrote.

"We have let our customers down and we know it."

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Deborah M. Todd: dtodd@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1652.


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