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Pearson Vue Now On Day 5 of Massive Outage

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the failure-to-fail-gracefully-compounds-the-problem dept.

Bug 151

Reader Patrick In Chicago is one of a few readers to write with this unpleasant news: "Computer-based testing provider Pearson Vue is now in day 5 of a global outage, preventing test-takers worldwide from sitting for exams. I was personally turned away from a Cisco exam on Wednesday morning because Pearson was unable to deliver. Countless people have posted to Pearson Vue's Facebook page detailing various states of panic. There are people who have certifications expiring. Others are unable to sit their medical board exams. Still others are unable to sit exams that they are required to pass in order to work — Pearson Vue's incompetence has actually prevented people from going out and making a paycheck." This reminds me of a friend of mine who had to wait half a year to re-take his bar exam, because of a software glitch on the part of ExamSoft's software.

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qualitay (1)

chriscappuccio (80696) | about a year and a half ago | (#43550687)

quality software strikes again!

Re:qualitay (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#43550993)

quality software strikes again!

It's not that -- the problem is there are found to be between 10 and 20 Klingons sitting each exam.

i remember this happening in our registration system

Re: qualitay (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43551109)

Klingons, setting quietly in front of computers taking tests with bat'leths neetly leaning against the side of the desk.

You owe me a new phone!

Re:qualitay (3, Funny)

edumacator (910819) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551565)

If only the people who wrote the test could have taken a test to prove their competence.

Re:qualitay (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43552313)

Which part of "Microsoft Product" did you not understand?

Re:qualitay (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551911)

quality software strikes again!

Pearson VUE is a SharePoint site.

Re:qualitay (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43553193)

As an ex-employee, I can say that VUE does not run Sharepoint for the test centers.

Reminds you of ExamSoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43550689)

How, exactly?
Bar exam versus IT cert? Something required to practice law versus a shitty certification?
Software glitch versus global outage?
Wow. Just, wow.
Yeah, it reminds me of this one time my hard drive crashed at work, and I was down for 2 hours while IT installed a new one with a fresh image.

Re:Reminds you of ExamSoft? (4, Insightful)

postbigbang (761081) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551065)

Could be deeper than your trolling presumes. Consider that this outage comes after some of their exams were found to be scoring incorrectly. Perhaps what you're seeing is an actual (don't hold your breath) audit going on, as tests are vetted..... who knows, perhaps for the first time.

Would it change outcomes? We may never know. Too bad that they're not on the front line, trying to explain the outage after the first few hours. Perhaps there is chaos in the backroom, perhaps someone dug up their data lines with a trencher, but we just don't know. Perhaps a PR firm might be useful at this point, but when you're a cash cow, you need no PR. Right?

UK Driving License (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43550699)

Pearson Vue also administer the theory component of the UK driving test.

It's not mentioned in TFA, does anybody know if there were affected also?

Re:UK Driving License (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43550827)

Yup, there's a bug in there which tells everyone taking the test to drive on the wrong side of the road!

Re:UK Driving License (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551303)

...which isn't half as bad as the time it told only the trucks to drive on the wrong side of the road.

Re:UK Driving License (4, Funny)

edumacator (910819) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551575)

Wait...which is the wrong side?

Re:UK Driving License (4, Insightful)

David_W (35680) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551591)

The side that isn't right, clearly.

Re:UK Driving License (5, Funny)

edumacator (910819) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551633)

Of course. Your right.

Re:UK Driving License (1)

sootman (158191) | about a year and a half ago | (#43552531)

A very old bug, and marked: WONTFIX.

Re:UK Driving License (2, Funny)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year and a half ago | (#43552127)

"Pearson Vue also administer the theory component of the UK driving test."

Wait... What???

How much "theory" do you need to know in order to drive in the UK? Do you have to explain how Ackerman Steering works, or what?

Re:UK Driving License (1)

adolf (21054) | about a year and a half ago | (#43552657)

"theory component" == "written test"

Free Passes for All!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43550703)

When my local bricks and mortar store screws up like this, they usually give away freebies. What, Pearson has no competition, you say? Well byte me.

Re: Free Passes for All!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43550819)

Oh, they have plenty of competition these days. Some companies, like Proctor U, let you take exams at home. Sounds like Netflix vs Blockbuster to me.

How could a company this big have an outage this bad?

Re: Free Passes for All!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43550837)

Plus, there's always Prometric

Re: Free Passes for All!! (1)

Martin Blank (154261) | about a year and a half ago | (#43552183)

That depends on the test you're trying to take. Some tests are only available through one of the providers.

Re: Free Passes for All!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43552331)

How could a company this big have an outage this bad?

They built it on SharePoint.

Funny (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43550705)

A provider of network certification exams experiencing a service outage.

Though, I have to ask, what exactly is the issue here? When I took a Cisco exam, everything seemed local, can't they simply say "thanks for taking the exam, we'll email/mail/call you with the results when they become available"?

Re:Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43550743)

Or - a thought, is the issue not so much the uploading of results to 3rd party servers such as Cisco's but rather the inability to download the relevant exam?

This is why I do not trust the Cloud. Also, I'd prefer having a timed paper exam for the more common exams in case of something like this.

Re:Funny (1)

iCEBaLM (34905) | about a year and a half ago | (#43550973)

Not lately, I took the CCNA a year ago, and not only is the test delivered over the internet, but they video you taking the test, and ship it all back to cisco for "validation" before you're actually certified.

Re:Funny (4, Interesting)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551005)

I took my CCNA exam there last year. Halfway through, one of the simulations completely froze... absolutely nothing would respond other than the timer continuing to count down. I had the woman running the exam come in and check it out, she agreed that it wasn't supposed to completely freeze up. They refused to let me refund or reschedule the exam.

Re:Funny (4, Interesting)

Bremic (2703997) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551783)

This is actually very common for Pearson Vue, and I have never heard of them allowing someone to take the exam again without having to pay full price. It happens so often I wonder if it's part of the revenue stream.
Basically.. "People need certification for work or they wont earn their income, so if we screw them they have no choice but to pay again to get it complete. If this happens to 2% of people, we get an instant revenue bump from those people paying twice."
It's fraud, but no one seems to want to do anything about it.

Re:Funny (4, Informative)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43552051)

She can't refund you there, because you didn't pay her. You paid Vue, so you must go to them for the refund. Silly, I know, but that's how it works. She should have gotten out her Vue test center 800 number and called support, and if Vue support can't fix it remotely, then you get your money back.

I used to work at a test center (also a VAR and training center).

Re:Funny (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551039)

A provider of network certification exams experiencing a service outage.

Though, I have to ask, what exactly is the issue here? When I took a Cisco exam, everything seemed local, can't they simply say "thanks for taking the exam, we'll email/mail/call you with the results when they become available"?

In a sense, some of the same perverse incentives that drive fiascos like the EA/SimCity server-meltdown launch are probably at work with a testing company:

The greater the local storage of exams and answer keys, the easier it would be for them to leak, and the easier it would be for local employees/franchised locations to provide off-the-book 'services', for their own personal gain. The more you tie to HQ(eg. certainly don't have scoring capabilities onsite, ideally have only thin clients that dial in to HQ) the more control you have. Of course, this means going from a fairly robust system(all the tests Pearson administers would amount to what? a few tens of gigabytes, if there is any multimedia component, with relatively infrequent changes? You could probably keep the testing centers in step with rsync over dialup...) to a brittle one; but that never seems to stop anybody...

Re:Funny (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551689)

It's not, they batch the exam download for the night before, based on the next day's schedule.

Re:Funny (1)

Patrick In Chicago (1571139) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551873)

Everything is not local. The testing location's servers must be able to contact Vue's servers when the exam is launched.

Privatization of Education Yields Inferior Results (0)

litehacksaur111 (2895607) | about a year and a half ago | (#43550715)

The privatization of education and testing once again shows inferior results compared to public education and testing. I have never heard of the MCAT, LCAT, GRE, or SAT ever having these kinds of problems.

Re:Privatization of Education Yields Inferior Resu (5, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#43550783)

Sorry to break the news, but MCAT, GRE and SAT are run by private firms. They're 'non profits' but they are not government entities.

Re:Privatization of Education Yields Inferior Resu (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43550785)

The privatization of education and testing once again shows inferior results compared to public education and testing. I have never heard of the MCAT, LCAT, GRE, or SAT ever having these kinds of problems.

Those tests are all administered by private companies.

Re:Privatization of Education Yields Inferior Resu (1)

Stormy Dragon (800799) | about a year and a half ago | (#43550809)

I have never heard of the MCAT, LCAT, GRE, or SAT ever having these kinds of problems.

Uh... Prometric, LSAC, and ETS are all private corporations, albeit nonprofit.

Re:Privatization of Education Yields Inferior Resu (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43550813)

What, like having to reboot a #2 pencil?

Re:Privatization of Education Yields Inferior Resu (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551007)

It's called a sharpener.

Re:Privatization of Education Yields Inferior Resu (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43550845)

ETS, which manages the GRE appears to be a private organization: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Educational_Testing_Service

If the definition of public is government operated, the College Board probably doesn't qualify. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_Board

Aye, The Rub! (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43550717)

... and therein lies the issue with essential certification being tied in to a proprietary, privately owned-and-managed system.

Re:Aye, The Rub! (0)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551411)

... and therein lies the issue with essential certification being tied in to a proprietary, privately owned-and-managed system.

The issue is? Seriously, who does this better?

Re:Aye, The Rub! (2)

Patrick In Chicago (1571139) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551879)

Well... I haven't heard of a 5+ day Prometric outage, for one.

Re:Aye, The Rub! (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551473)

No matter what your ideology, it's pretty silly to claim that your preselected worldview is somehow meaningfully supported by a single data point.

Re:Aye, The Rub! (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551569)

True but does each missed test (and the resulting effects on those who may have passed them) count as data points on their own or is the one large outage a single data point? Sometimes we have to refine and dig deeper to see a trend or spot a problem.

Re:Aye, The Rub! (1)

HangingChad (677530) | about a year and a half ago | (#43552145)

>privately owned-and-managed system

I despise Pearson Vue and their heavy-handed tactics. There has to be a more practical way to determine certification than those hacks.

As for their outage, I feel sorry for anyone who has to reschedule but the company can suck shit and die.

Re:Aye, The Rub! (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43552247)

I had this image of a manager standing over an employee watching a clock, then saying "times up, your certificate has expired, please pack your things and leave."

DRM = single point of failure (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43550731)

Think of all the frustration and loss of value that their selfish DRM systems have caused as they attempt to extract rent from people's needed education.

If free and open source software was used for distributed testing, this could all be avoided.

Professorship is easy! (0)

RocketRabbit (830691) | about a year and a half ago | (#43550749)

What with having the grad students do all the research and teaching, and hiring testing services to provide the books, syllabi, and even testing materials, what's the point of even having University professors any more?

I think it would be more efficient for everybody if you could just purchase degrees directly from Pearson.

Panic? Frustration? Maybe... (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#43550767)

But I see no massive outrage there.

Re:Panic? Frustration? Maybe... (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year and a half ago | (#43550805)

I tried to look at their Facebook page but the entire Facebook site appears to be down. If Slashdot managed to trash Facebook, you can bet your toasted hard drives that there will be outrage, panic and Congressional Blue Ribbon committees.

Re:Panic? Frustration? Maybe... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year and a half ago | (#43552507)

But I see no massive outrage there.

Is this a sign that "nothing of value was lost"?

Aye :-) (0)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year and a half ago | (#43550807)

And why are Object Oriented languages and Windows a good pair :-), For every developer who supports Objected Oriented language, this outage is for you, OO Languages!

Re:Aye :-) (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43550833)

Not sure if trolling... or just wildly delusional and somehow entrusted with a keyboard...

Re:Aye :-) (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551445)

eh? what major OS is NOT used to run OO languages?

Re:Aye :-) (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551585)

I am, at least a little, willing to listen.

I don't get it. Please explain where you're coming from and what you're trying to express (clearly and use short words 'cause I'm dumb) with this statement.

Re:Aye :-) (1, Offtopic)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551653)

This is most likely a software and platform bug, from my experience which is a fair bit the majority of software bugs are generated from OO based languages and programmers who don't really understand computer arch. So I'm willing to just go ahead and blame all the programmers who think languages like C++, C# and Java are good ideas, and who think Windows is a good platform to use to run anything. I'm willing to bet if this entire system was based on C and ran in a pure Linux environment it would be fine.

Re:Aye :-) (1)

KGIII (973947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43552219)

Thank you. I was sure you had a reason. I am unable to agree with that reasoning with the scant evidence at hand and your conclusions seem like huge leaps and maybe even blaming a language for the error that is people but I can see where you're coming from now.

Re:Aye :-) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43552393)

YOu been trolled and then you agreed. WT?F

Re:Aye :-) (4, Insightful)

KGIII (973947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43552823)

Perhaps you missed the "unable to agree" in my comment? I didn't agree, I was civil. There is a difference. I opted to be civil as it was the more noble road and I felt like being idealistic. I am not sure but I think the world would be in better shape if more people did that.

No competition in this industry (1)

dehole (1577363) | about a year and a half ago | (#43550815)

This is what happens when there is no competition in this industry, reliance on a single provider can cripple you if there is no alternative. It boggles my mind that we trust private for-profit corporations to design and administer tests.

Since there isn't much hope of a government testing center solution, perhaps an alliance of professionals should agree on a set of standards. Those standards would be open and would allow institutions to bid the work out to multiple contractors. When you have one contractor, such as pearson, without any competition, you know they won the monolopy game.

Re:No competition in this industry (3, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551043)

There are mutliple testing centers, but they are all exclusive. Prometric offers The Open Group testing, so you can still take a test and get TOGAF certified if you want, but Cisco is apparently available exclusively on Vue, and most seem to be that way, where only one tester delivers any single test, but there are multiple options for testing. No idea how it got to that without illegal collusion, but that's what we have now.

what an answer to give.... (1)

zugedneb (601299) | about a year and a half ago | (#43550817)

"We are in the midst of implementing recommendations by our internal and external technology experts, but it is too soon to know how quickly this will improve system performance." bwwwaaahahahahahahaha

Not to sound overly harsh (2)

RobbieCrash (834439) | about a year and a half ago | (#43550849)

But if your job is dependent on you having a certification, would you really leave it to the last 3 days of your certs validity to do the test? What if you fail, most certs have a minimum retry period of a week or so, don't they? Isn't this just a semi-inconvenient thing rather than the economy crushing madness the summary makes it out to be?

Re:Not to sound overly harsh (4, Insightful)

galimore (461274) | about a year and a half ago | (#43550883)

I think you're mixing two different things.

1) Some people have certifications expiring.

In many cases, if you certify a higher level certification, it will renew your older lower ranked certificate. But if your certification expires, you won't be able to take the higher level certification because that lower level certification is required to take the higher level.

So yes, in this case, people are being somewhat lazy, and frankly most companies would work with you on this.

2) Some people need a certification to be able to work.

This might mean that some people are unable to start working (i.e. take a job with a company) until they pass their certification.

This is a different issue altogether, and has nothing to do with laziness on the part of the test taker.

Re:Not to sound overly harsh (1)

RobbieCrash (834439) | about a year and a half ago | (#43550951)

Didn't think of your second point. Fair enough.

Re:Not to sound overly harsh (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551089)

Some "certifications" require continuing education, and some standardized testing is used to prove that CE. It's conceivable that a CPA (or AMA or Bar) member could lose the right to practice if they didn't take a test in time, though most try not to push it that close to the cutoff.

Re:Not to sound overly harsh (1)

Fuzzums (250400) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551281)

And some certificates just expire after two years and are replaced by something totally new *coughM$*

Re:Not to sound overly harsh (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43552069)

MS doesn't do that. I got my MCSE back when they had no expiration date. MS may now assert that I'm not an MCSE because I passed it in 1998, but in 1998, under the terms at the time, 6 tests = MCSE for life. I have a non-expiring certificate for MCSE I can use at any time to prove it. I also have expired CCNA, CCDA, CCNP, CCSP, and CCDPs to grumble at Cisco for. A new test every 2 years, of they all go away. Oh yeah, the port numbers for DNS change every year, so you gotta keep on top of all that. Yes, MPLS is bigger now than ATM is, and ATM was bigger 10 years ago than now, but 2 years seems like a short time, unless their tests are to prove the superiority of Cisco, push their AVVID or cloud or whatever they feel like pushing now.

Re:Not to sound overly harsh (1)

Patrick In Chicago (1571139) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551977)

Not everybody with a lapsing cetification is lazy. Some entire COUNTRIES don't have a Pearson Vue center. There was one post on the FB page of a lady who had to first make an appointment to get a visa with her government. Once they finally get around to granting the appointment, she has to book the exam. But she hasn't been able to book the exam in 5 days, and her appointment time for the visa came and went. She won't be able to get visa in time to certify prior to expiration. On the Cisco front... it's not that far fetched that a non-lazy person might be about to lose their certification. Maybe you start booking recertification exams somewhere around 3 months prior to expiration, you decide you'll try an advanced exam to move up in the world. You take the exam, maybe you fail it. 2 months left. You then study and have to find a center with an appointment. Maybe 3-4 weeks left at this point. Maybe you fail again. So you decide you can't pass the higher level exam and study up to recertify. On Sunday you try to book the exam. You can't. And you can't Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. And it looks like you probably won't be able to book Friday either, and maybe the whole weekend. Now you're really in trouble. Will there even be an appointment anywhere? Maybe you have to travel out of state to reach a Vue center. I'll give you that there are some procrastinators who wait for the last minute, but 5 days of being unable to book or take an already-booked exam is atrocious.

Re:Not to sound overly harsh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43551827)

Scheduling also tends to be an issue. For me, I only had a few days a month that I could get off to take my boards. Given that everyone else in the country was in a similar situation, most of those days were filled up. Thus, my effective choices were maybe two days per quarter, and that was several months out. If the testing center couldn't do the test on that day it'd likely be a 6 month setback, which could easily create problems (e.g. being unemployed for a year).

Re:Not to sound overly harsh (1)

Patrick In Chicago (1571139) | about a year and a half ago | (#43552053)

There are many exams that are only open for a specific window of time, you either pass them in the window or you're out of luck.

Re:Not to sound overly harsh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43553209)

If you're a doctor who cancelled a whole day's clinic to take an 8 hour exam which is only scheduled every 6 months, it is a little more than mildly inconvenient.

I graded standardized math exams (4, Interesting)

shadowofwind (1209890) | about a year and a half ago | (#43550863)

for a few weeks about ten years ago. I'm about 90% sure it was for Pearson. Some of the answers in the key weren't even right. When I tried to politely point this out I was punished for insubordination.

Re:I graded standardized math exams (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43551711)

Same here; I was cleaning up litter in a park and charged with disturbing the peace.

Oh wait, no I wasn't, I just completely made that up.

Re:I graded standardized math exams (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43551961)

I've taken many standardized exams in my life and I've noticed that their purpose is to differentiate students. A fixed percentage are failed, regardless of score, and a fixed percentage pass. As all students look fairly similar, the test is the major determinant of your opportunities, but there's nothing to corroborate with the results. You could give scientists an exam on the history of the Byzantine Empire and it'd work just as well for that purpose (and since essentially everyone is competent, having arbitrary acceptance criteria doesn't create problems either). So errors are irrelevant, the exam just needs to look like it measures knowledge in a particular subject area.

Note: the exams I've taken require you to get between 50 - 70% of the questions right to pass, given the usual percentile breakdown, and almost nobody does better than 85%. Thus, the 100 point score range is really about ten percentage points difference on an exam where students are guessing on about a third of the questions. Said exams were never intended to be a differentiators of students, but people started using them to filter down the applicant pool. I happened to run into someone who served on the review committee and apparently it's a recognized issue that they can't really fix. If they took away numeric scores then it'd cause too much chaos, and if they made each question something a reasonable student should know (i.e. a competence test), then almost everyone would pass with high marks and it'd essentially be the same thing.

Re:I graded standardized math exams (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43552613)

Interesting. My honors first-year Physics classes in college had tests that resulted in scores between 15% and 85%. Their unintended consequence was to differentiate students. Their primary purpose, which they were very good at, was to determine exactly how much physics you retained and understood from the lectures.

How long was it out for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43550879)

Article says the people were waiting for four hours not days? Which is it? An outage on a single server that lasts for five days means they arn't virtualizing and they arn't doing backups and they don't have spare equipment, complete incompetence! Guess all that admin training is doing absolutely no good. They would have been smart to pass on the blame or been a little more vague! I think they would learn a bit from my Training Videos http://rawcell.com [rawcell.com] .

You FAIL it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43550923)

Pearson? Is this also the textbook publisher? (1)

dicobalt (1536225) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551017)

Their logo appears to be the same font as my woefully overpriced Pearson textbooks. That does not amuse me.

Whew! (1)

notthegeneral (2907447) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551035)

I took the second part of the CompTIA A+ exam on Friday through Pearson. I had no idea I was barely dodging the nonfunctional bullet.

High Availability (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43551099)

You can think the suits who don’t really understand technology and why we need redundant systems and links.

Not sure this is unusual (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43551115)

if this is a cloud based service would this not be normal to have a long outage every so often...?

Posting anonymous since there was a NDA (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43551179)

I mean it's long been expired but I still don't want any shit.

I worked for Pearson several years ago. I had a small start-up company that specialized in courseware systems. The deal with Pearson was small, only around 500k to build a custom courseware system. Our team worked our hearts out desperately trying to get this product to market. We only took a small payment up-front and the rest was due on completion.

When the product was finished Pearson threw their team of lawyers at us when we tried to get the rest of what was due. They completely fucked us over, so badly that the company disbanded and all of us had to find new jobs without pay. I would bet that this is a similar situation.

ASP.NOT .. that's why :p (1)

luckymae (2691983) | about a year and a half ago | (#43551677)

yes please more WebForm and Microsoft quality SQL!

Doctors have to.... WAIT?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43551833)

Am I the only one who sees the delicious irony of doctors having to wait on something outside of their control? You know... like patients having to wait on doctors for hours at times ? ?

certification (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43551907)

"prevented people from going out and making a paycheck"

That's what happens when you rely on "certification" for vendor products and proprietary standards. There's something wrong when one's job needs more certification to get promoted.

NoTesting?!?!?!??!?! (1)

umask077 (122989) | about a year and a half ago | (#43552049)

Wait, There is no testing? Theirs always more testing to do and I was promised cake.

Hmmm (1)

jameshofo (1454841) | about a year and a half ago | (#43552429)

When doing maintenance in the data-center it is best practice to do one the following :
A: Run through the halls screaming downtime
B: Notify relevant parties of downtime and schedule appropriately
C: Give up, it runs a windows NT box that has never seen an update from Microsoft and its run by a really old guy that often falls asleep in the data-center but management doesn't care because when he croaks he's taking the whole company with him because no one know's how the hell that thing works.
D: None of the above, we're going for 100% up-time this year, suck-it Google!

Washington Post article (1)

shuz (706678) | about a year and a half ago | (#43552439)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/25/yet-a-new-pearson-problem-with-testing/ [washingtonpost.com]
Today, due to a problem with Pearson’s central server in Iowa, the test centers could not operate and we were not allowed into the test center for 5 hours after the scheduled time.

Based on this article it appears the service has not been down entirely for 5 days.

Re:Washington Post article (2)

Patrick In Chicago (1571139) | about a year and a half ago | (#43552549)

I'm sorry, but a 5 hour delay is NOT "up, but at a reduced capacity" at they claim. Failing to deliver an EIGHT HOUR exam for 5 hours is an outage. You show up at 7AM and the exam can't be run until noon? So you're taking an exam until 8PM? Ridiculous. People all over the globe are unable to schedule or reschedule exams. They are showing up at testing centers only to be turned away because the center can't deliver the exam - Pearson's servers are unreachable. Calls to customer service offer no assistance other than "We can't log in, try again tomorrow."

Mission critical infrastructure (5, Informative)

shuz (706678) | about a year and a half ago | (#43552475)

In my particular line of work a 4-5+ hour outage would make most national media news. Careful planning goes not into daily run but also what to do in the event of a major outage and backup plans including dr failover. If Pearson is this important and has far reaching and potential legal obligations to provide testing services, I would expect them to have plans to recover from anything short of a well distributed and targeted nuclear attack. That is the mindset of mission critical enterprise IT. I can't pass judgement of Pearson's infrastructure because I don't work there and we certainly don't have all the facts but this likely will be a huge wake up call to their Management. It should also be a huge opportunity for an outside IT contracting company to do an audit of their plans.

Re:Mission critical infrastructure (2)

Patrick In Chicago (1571139) | about a year and a half ago | (#43552517)

That's really the core of the problem. They claim that they're fully up, just at diminished capacity. Some people are managing to squeeze exams in here and there. Some people are managing to schedule or reschedule. But many people are being turned away from testing centers. Many people can't reschedule anything. Calls to customer service result in "Sorry, we can't get into the system either."

Re:Mission critical infrastructure (2)

wintermute000 (928348) | about a year and a half ago | (#43553103)

My money is on a major backend upgrade gone foobar and somehow foobarring the rollback (if they even considered rollbacki?!?!?!). Either that or their prod is completely hosed somehow (fire etc.) and they've had to switch on their never properly tested, not properly built or scoped DR that was just put in to tick some audit by a non IT person putting a check next to a box.

A break-fix does not take 5 days to resolve, not even a large SAN.

I've seen some rank amateurish behaviour by enterprises with multi million dollar turnovers so its no surprise for a monopolist vendor like Pearson to sit there and watch the money roll in. Unless there is some kind of legal/contractual or PR ramification from downtime mgt just don't get it until it happens.

This is why you need a second source. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43552541)

Any education system that has only a single exam provider, flunks a basic test of intelligence.

Not surprising (1)

The_Great_Outdoors (2516356) | about a year and a half ago | (#43552545)

Last semester I had a class that required testing on Pearson, and even on a typical day (not beginning of semester when everyone is creating accounts, and not during finals), their servers bogged down and responded slowly. Sometimes I would have to refresh a few times to get the page to load. This seems on par for the experience I have had with them.

Tap Battery-Swap stations or use Energy fr Thorium (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43552585)

So, there are all sorts of -local- power sources available for implementation:

1. huge diesel-fueled generators (call out your National Guard groups...
        oh, wait, aren't they wasting their time deployed overseas...)

2. use nearby batteries of wind generators (or is it only the clever Danes,
        who've planned such energy sources into their grid?)

3. use your area's nearby, -spare- Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR)
        (no, wait, didn't your gov't - in Nixon's time - -kill- research on safe LFTRs?)

4. use lots of BetterPlace's EV battery-swap stations' spare electricity
        (Oops! They've cut & run from the US's EV marketplace, maybe
        because Americans are buying local more... & no such stations exist?)

Well, it looks like you're being adversely impacted by sequences of Bad Decision,
not to mention your own, eg, not insisting on 100% power back-up's for all hosting
services, which your systems depend on - whether in-house or out-sourced...

Bad Decisions hurt your Customers, but - no matter who made those decisions -
I hope you'll squeak-by to get a chance to re-think & improve on them in future...

Used to Deal With Them as Consultant (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43552741)

I used to work with a few companies that work with Pearson, so we often had to integrate with their systems, consume their data, talk to their people, etc.

I laugh at this article because it is hardly surprising. A huge chunk of their services are built on some of the worst Indian programmer spaghetti crap in Java you have ever seen. At one point, one of the major testing companies I was working with had to build web services to exchange some data with them. They couldn't figure out simple things like using SSL, encoding in UTF-8, and not making things completely proprietary for no reason. They used to put up huge SOAP feeds where you'd get almost a meg of data and really the only useful value anyone would need would be 1 true/false. I've seen worse, but just barely.

Even more scary is how they treat personally identifiable information (PII). Avoiding correlating PII with results and tests is huge in that industry, and they have no clue. I've never seen a company staffed with so many inept people. They are only out for your cash and don't care about anything else. That's why so many of their tests and labs also look straight out of 1994 still.

This company is a joke. As a customer, I also was billed before several times when canceling the exam. Their cancelation system went down in part, but it was still registered as cancelled, but sent out no email. They claimed since I didn't have the email, no money back. So I asked that because their system broke, I have to pay? Yes. Unbelievable. Prometric isn't much better so they can get away with this kind of shady stuff.

I for one hope they burn, or at least draw attention from consumer rights organizations.

Business-to-business is the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43552849)

The problem is that these companies are usually business-to-business, that is, they sell their software to middle managers in a large company who will never actually use it themselves, so bugs, problems or errors go unreported.

I took an online test when hiring for my current company, provided by a 3rd part specializing in these things. To get familiar with taking these tests I could run a practice test at home - but the "practice" test I took at home and the live test differed (and I don't mean the questions were different). In the practice test you could skip a question and come back, in the live test you couldn't.

How did they tell you? Through an OK/Cancel dialog popping up, saying "You can not come back to this question. To go to the next question, click Cancel. To stay on the current question, click OK".

Now if you are like 99% of most computer users you expect the OK to perform whatever action you requested (move forward) and Cancel to not do it, so you only read the first sentence and click OK. Only when your finger is moving up from having pressed down the left mouse button do you realize the diabolical nature and disregard of usability principles of the programmers of this test.

For things that can have potentially life changing implications, one should expect a lot more.

Appears their sins have caught up with them. (1)

TheHawke (237817) | about a year and a half ago | (#43553259)

Their mistakes have multiplied greatly over the past 5 years, ranging from basic testing errors that wiped out the hopes for several thousand students, to outages that shackled tens of thousands of applicants for a variety of programs, not just in the academic field.

Questions abound over how they managed to obtain half-billion dollar contracts with states. This stems from non-profit organizations that are attached to the corporate body itself. Plus the heavy-handed lobbying and borderline monopoly they have over the instructional book, testing and exam industry.

Sounds like Pearson needs to come under a congressional audit and grilled until they are past well done.

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