Posted by on 2 September 2013 in General

We understand the recent site issues have caused disruptions in service to you, our loyal customers. Given that a number of members have asked for more details about the problems we’ve been experiencing recently, I wanted to write a note to all our members to give you an update.

First, let me emphasize that we are thankful for your business, and appreciate the feedback you have been sharing on our social channels, on the phone and via email. We love hearing from you and care deeply about your experience. So when something goes wrong, our engineers are immediately focused on fixing the problem. We are continually working on projects to improve site availability and performance to ensure that as our community and your trees grow, so does our infrastructure to support your activities.

The interest in family history has evolved quickly over the past few years. Our member community continues to grow, and with the complexity of our service we’ve hit a point where some fundamental architecture changes are needed to adapt our site to our member growth and evolution of our site features. In the past we have been able to add hardware to get to the next level, but now we have to make smart and purposeful changes to our infrastructure and these will take time to execute.

This weekend is an example of how our current architecture could still use some updates. There was a hardware failure that caused a single network event to disrupt the site’s performance. We’re working to upgrade the architecture to handle these types of situations, and as we work through this, you may see some intermittent site issues – but our teams are working very hard to minimize the impact on the site, so you can continue researching your family history.

For this weekend’s situation we have now restored the majority of the site’s functionality, including Search and Family Trees. We appreciate your patience as we address these issues as quickly as possible and again apologize for any inconvenience this might cause.

Keep in mind that keeping your information safe throughout this process is our number one priority. We have multiple back-up servers that house your precious family history research to ensure it is online once the site is available again.

That being said, I will reiterate a few comments I made on a Facebook post a few weeks back, which I think are important for you to know.

We are working on some updates to our sites infrastructure in order to continue to provide you with a world-class family history experience; some of the things we’re working on include:

  • Re-architecting our base development framework with the goal of improved performance and availability
  • Applying additional levels of database and network monitoring in order to more quickly detect and resolve problems

We will also continue to invest in new core product features to make finding your family history easier and faster, while adding record collections so that more data is available to you.  We are pleased that so many people want to learn more about their family history, and as our member community grows we will continue to work behind the scenes to limit disruptions to your service as we evolve the site to grow with the addition of new members and new site features.

On behalf of all of us at Ancestry.com we thank you for your continued support, and for your business, and encourage you to keep the comments coming. And I’ll update you on the blog as we continue to make progress.

Sincerely,
Scott Sorensen, Chief Technology Officer

Scott Sorensen has served as Chief Technology Officer of Ancestry.com since April 2013. Scott has been at the company since June 2002 and has held multiple positions including Senior Vice President of Engineering, Vice President of Search and Vice President of Commerce. Prior to joining Ancestry.com, Scott was co-founder and Vice President of Engineering and then President at Coresoft Technologies. Scott was an engineering manager at WordPerfect / Novell and a software engineer at IBM. He holds a B.S in Computer Science from Brigham Young University. – See more at: http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2013/08/31/a-message-from-scott-sorensen-chief-technology-officer/#sthash.zcPQNOl5.dpuf

 

About Emma

Emma Pulman is a Social Media and digital Marketing Executive for Ancestry.co.uk. Based in Ancestry's London office in Hammersmith, Emma regularly tweets and posts on Ancestry's Facebook page.

15 Comments

Dave Bell 

Thanks Scott for the update,I have always found the ancestry site to be one of the quickest database sites around. I have worked on many database sites, in the NHS and in Banking sectors, your site outshone all that I have worked with in over 30 years.
Regards
Dave Bell

2 September 2013 at 9:12 am
Ron 

So you must of known you was having prolems with your site, as you say your growing membership base & the use of the site you have. Why then do you open the site FREE TO ALL PUBLIC every bankholiday weekend knowing thats the time most loyal paying members will use the site? Do paying members not matter anymore once you the members money? One site went bust with that attitude. The WWW has great many Genealogy sites people can go on now & some are free join enough of them & one can get more info than you have. Fix the problems you have, don’t worry about getting new members, Start looking after the members you have or you might not have any left. It’s the members Ancestry have now that have got you Ancestry to what it is now. Members have had enough of coming last so fix that one.

2 September 2013 at 9:21 am
Richard J Thomas 

Thanks for the detailed heads-up

Your site is invaluable and whilst I can understand the frustration felt by many when the site is down (I being one), I fully understand your explanations

Ancestry continues to be the fundamental resource for research – long may it thrive

Regards
Rich

2 September 2013 at 9:23 am
Patricia 

This blog was posted on the .com site on the 31st, does the UK site not count?

Totally agree with what Ron above has said, you are treating your PAYING members badly, while still trying to encourage new members by having these free weeks, weekends etc.
But you give nothing to your PAYING members for the interuptions and slowness this causes the site. How about giving all paying members a free months Worldwide access, those that have worldwide already could have an extra month added to thier subscription

Members should be first and foremost as we are the ones that:
a, pay for new records to be added to the site,
b, pay your wages!
get th esite working as it should do then, and only then, advertise for new members

2 September 2013 at 9:42 am
Eileen Sullivan Tormey 

I have been a member with Ancestry for some time now. As much as I understand the technical issues, I have never seen such interruptions as has happened recently. It has interfered with my use of the website too often. I will need to call on Tuesday seeking some sort of adjustment to my subscription.

I do appreciate all that Ancestry offers but it is a bit frustrating to have paid for a world membership then see all these free weekend offers. Please take care of your existing customers first then advertise separately for new ones.

2 September 2013 at 10:15 am
Gail Christophers 

I totally agree with Eileen, Patricia & Ron. Whenever I see Ancestry advertise a ‘Free’ weekend, I don’t even bother to go on the site as I know it will be slow or will have crashed.
I know you have to generate new business, but if you are upsetting your loyal customers in the process, who may not feel inclined to renew their subscription, you’ll be harming your business more than enhancing it.
I do appreciate that the technology has to updated as the site grows, but as a regular Facebook user, who must face the same issues, I only very occasionally find that site slow.

2 September 2013 at 10:55 am
Robert 

Thank you for this explanation – I for one am grateful. Those of us on full subs might be forgetting we can create and maintain multiple trees within our one payment. A very valuable service.

2 September 2013 at 11:30 am
John S 

A wonderful exercise in producing technical jargon to confuse the general public. Well done!

2 September 2013 at 12:30 pm
Paul 

Dear Scott

I can see your lips moving but I haven’t got a clue what you just said!!! “Re-architecting our base development framework” and “Applying additional levels of database and network monitoring” are both terms of management vocabulary which not everybody understands!! I understand that global companies like Ancestry give out freebies every now and then but Ancestry should prioritize it’s paying members first!!!

2 September 2013 at 4:14 pm
Margaret Jones 

I too have subscribed to world wide access for a few years now but when my membership expired a couple of weeks ago I looked at the cost and all the trouble there as been recently that I decided not to renew .I miss the site a great deal but until I know that I am not going to pay a lot of money for some thing that keeps letting me down. A decent company would look after its loyal customers.

2 September 2013 at 4:22 pm
Margaret Bartlett 

Thanks Scott for a load of mumbo jumbo. No mention of any rebate for your paying subscribers. Ancestry you have really messed up this time, do you treat your American customer base in the same way as you treat us Brits with outages and no recompense? I think not.

2 September 2013 at 7:48 pm
Chris Manning 

I’ve never heard such a load of jargon-encrusted, patronising bull in all my life. Who the hell do you think you’re talking to, Mister? Well said Margaret, although I have another name for mumbo-jumbo, and Scott knows it – he must have a Phd in it, I should think. Look, mate, no-one understood a word, and I don’t pay £150 p.a. to listen to insulting rubbish like that. Just fix it, ok?

2 September 2013 at 10:15 pm
Vanessa 

I still can’t access my family trees? 03.09.13 20.25
Are we going to get a refund?
When will this be fixed?
I only have limited time on the computer to do this so it is frustrating when I can’t access my stuff!

3 September 2013 at 7:28 pm
David Matthew 

Why just not say what you mean in plain English, i.e. there are too many customers and your system can’t cope and that you had not planned for this scenario. What we also need is a database where the information has been properly transcribed or transcribed at all not all of this ‘architecture’ talk, the time we spend on trying to find our ancestors when what has been transcribed is just wrong or non-existent!

7 September 2013 at 2:07 pm
Colin Allen 

The bottom line of this, as I have suspected for a few months, is that Ancestry do not have the hardware capacity to cope with the growth of everyone’s trees. This will not be resolved overnight, and proper planning should be permanently in place for expansion. Bearing in mind what we pay, there is no excuse for this not being part of an annual (at least) capacity-planning exercise. The service has been appalling for a few months now, and I agree that recompense is overdue.

7 September 2013 at 10:46 pm