Data centre migration successful
Switchover "a success"
Servers at the Ashburn data centre
On 22 January, WMF staff and contractors switched incoming, non-cached requests (including edits) to the Foundation's newer data centre in Ashburn, Virginia, making it responsible for handling almost all regular traffic. For the first time since 2004, virtually no traffic will be handled by the WMF's other facility in Tampa, Florida.
"Located in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, Ashburn offers faster and more reliable connectivity than Tampa, and usually fewer hurricanes", wrote Guillaume Paumier, the Foundation's Technical Communications Manager in a comprehensive blog post published before the switchover.
As of time of writing, the migration has been declared a success, with the two "backup" maintenance windows previously scheduled for later this week scrapped. Total editing downtime so far has been estimated at 30 minutes, with other smaller problems extending further. Overall, however, the migration seems to have been characterised by its praise-worthily minimal impact.
The data centre in Tampa will continue to be maintained as a "hot failover", with "servers ... in standby mode[, ready] to take over, should the primary site experience an outage. Server configuration and data will be synchronized between the two locations to ensure a transition as smooth as possible in case of technical difficulties in Ashburn", writes Paumier. Additionally, the Signpost understands that the Tampa data centre will continue to be used for image scaling in the short term, before that too is migrated to Ashburn. Across the two data centres, the Wikimedia Foundation currently operates a total of approximately 885 servers, serving around 20 billion page views a month.
First Quarterly Review makes for interesting reading
The E3 team presented the outcomes from their last three months to senior managers this week, in the first of a series of quarterly reviews.
On 19 December, WMF Deputy Director Erik Möller committed the Foundation to holding quarterly reviews of all its major engineering projects, including the Visual Editor, Mobile, Echo and Flow projects. First up, however, was the Editor Engagement Experiments (E3) team, who held their review last week. That meeting included both the E3 team itself, as well as senior managers at the Foundation (Executive Director Sue Gardner, Director of Features Engineering Terry Chay, and Erik himself), with the draft transcript giving an interesting insight into a world that can often appear to community members as inherently homogeneous.
The report phase of the meeting makes for mixed reading. Although all of the E3 team's projects – post-edit feedback, improving the account creation process, "Onboarding" (giving new users more information on possible editing tasks), and a campaign targeted at donors – appeared in some sense successful, none has yet been able to make a sizeable dent into the English Wikipedia's editor decline. Onboarding showed the most promise, with an unconfirmed 30% increase in users making an edit to mainspace within 24 hours of registering (21.7% vs. 16.5%); a newer project, looking at the provision of "guided tours" (walkthroughs) of the site, was also discussed. The analysis phase focussed on the balance between foundational and user-facing work, the lack of integration between the E3 and E2 teams (i.e. Echo and Flow), and the extent to which gains in terms of "1+ edit" users translated into increases in the numbering of returning editors. There was also disagreement about whether the E3 team was focussed tightly enough on the active editors brief.
The Visual Editor and Mobile projects (including mobile editing and Wikipedia Zero subprojects) are both scheduled to be reviewed in February, although the exact format of the review may be tweaked between then and now.
Not all fixes may have gone live to WMF sites at the time of writing; some may not be scheduled to go live for several weeks.
- First Wikidata client launch fares well: The first deployment of the Wikidata to the Hungarian Wikipedia was a success, its team says. The Wikidata client, the function of which at the moment is to make decentralised language links obsolete, launched on the wiki on 14 January (see previous Signpost coverage). Although several bugs have since been reported, they were of a minor nature, says Lydia Pintscher, Wikidata's community liaison; further deployments – to the Hebrew and Italian Wikipedias – remain pencilled in for 30 January.
- WMF begin hiring process for Toolserver migration contractor: The Wikimedia Foundation has begun its search for a contractor to help oversee the potentially contentious migration of tools from the Wikimedia Deutschland-run Toolserver to the in-house Wikimedia Labs (see also previous Signpost coverage). The full time contractor – who will be contracted for some 840 hours of work in total – will focus on "assisting community developers to migrate their tools to this new Labs infrastructure, especially those residing in Toolserver today", but should also be prepared to help improve and support the Labs platform to ensure the migration runs smoothly (official job posting).
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