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21 January 2013, 09:45

Wikipedia is moving

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On the Wikimedia Foundation's tech blog, Technical Communications Manager Guillaume Paumier has announced that Wikipedia and other services will move from Tampa, Florida to the company's new primary data centre in Ashburn, Virginia over the coming days. With this move, the company aims to "improve the technical performance and reliability of all Wikimedia sites". Paumier said that service limitations are expected during the transition: "Our sites will be in read-only mode for some time, and may be intermittently inaccessible." Migration will begin on 22 January and is scheduled to be completed by 24 January.

The switch to the Ashburn-based data centre has been in planning since summer 2010; the data centre has been in operation since November 2011. It has been used for caching since February 2012 and is already handling 90 per cent of traffic, said Wikimedia. The remaining 10 per cent of traffic, which involves, for example, editors changing content and cannot be cached, has, to date, been handled by the Apache and MySQL servers in Tampa. In August 2012, this division of labour proved problematic though when a severed internet cable led to service disruptions.

The Tampa-based centre will remain in place as a backup, and data will be synchronised between the two centres. Another reason for the migration is that Ashburn is said to offer a superior network infrastructure; this is where internet hosting pioneer UUNET started out. There is also a lower risk of tornadoes than in Florida.

The first Wikipedia servers were located in California. In 2004, Wikimedia moved to Tampa, Florida – founder Jimmy Wales' place of residence at the time. Wales is now a London, UK resident according to Wikipedia.


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