back to article Centrica: Server fault on Wednesday caused Hive to crash on the Tuesday. Yes, yes, that's what we said

Centrica has pinned last week's 36-hour freeze of its Hive app estate – the one that coincided with the plunging temperatures in Britain – on a server fault it claims happened, er, a day after the outage actually began. On Tuesday 2 April, users were forced to manually alter home thermostats and surveillance controls after the …

  1. Blockchain commentard

    Can someone point out to Claire Miles that they should be working around the clock EVERY DAY to ensure services remain online. Pretty basic "customer services via the internet" 101.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "owned by one of our external service providers"

      ALL Centrica's servers are owned by external service providers so that's no excuse. I'm going to go with HP probably screwed this one up, and maybe Centrica didn't check that the design was fault tolerant / able to failover or even monitored?

  2. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Caused the previous days problem

    Could be rewritten as 'Hive outage is first sign of an impending server fail'

    So hive now actually has a sensible use - providing early warning to the tech staff

    1. monty75

      Re: Caused the previous days problem

      Maybe the server overheated

      1. robidy Silver badge

        Re: Caused the previous days problem

        I heard it was frozen...

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Caused the previous days problem

          ..and they just let it go?

          1. Evil Scot
            Coat

            Re: Caused the previous days problem

            Leaving me as one with the wind and snow.

  3. Beau
    Holmes

    Blame

    Hive, do not deserve any criticism whatsoever, they are simply following President Trump's standing procedure when things go wrong. Blame someone else, however unreasonable that may seem.

  4. Korev Silver badge
    FAIL

    Redundancy

    "The incident was caused by a server, owned by one of our external service providers, going offline on Wednesday morning"

    A server? So no redundancy then?

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Redundancy

      a server, owned by one of our external service providers

      So Hive owners have outsourced the operation of their heating systems to Centrica, Centrica have outsourced to a number of external providers and they have possibly outsourced to someone else.

      There's a lot to be said for a bimetallic strip and a microswitch...

      1. F0rdPrefect
        Unhappy

        Re: Redundancy

        Yeah, but if you get a new boiler, because the old one died, that is now too easy under the Boiler Plus 2018 regulations.

      2. DavidCarter

        Re: Redundancy

        Hive is owned by British Gas. British Gas is owned by Centrica

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Redundancy

      Not only "A server" but their solution is to make sure it doesn't go offline again. I expect with a stern scolding.

      Rather than removing the single point of failure. Although I suspect a more detailed review of the incident would like reveal that the "point" in question was significantly larger than a single server. And contained many people currently re-applying the teflon to their shoulders and researching where to spend their bonuses.

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Redundancy

      So no redundancy then?

      Plenty of redundancy - sadly most of it in the techie/engineer specialities. One must maintain Board-level bonus payments after all!

  5. magickmark
    Thumb Up

    Hi this is Eddy your Centrica wide computer!

    Our Hive controlled Flux Capacitor went offline Wednesday morning 3rd April creating a loop in the space time continuum that caused your device to fail Tuesday 2nd April, this was finally resolved on Monday 1st April through a wormhole and all systems are now functioning within 10 decimal places of normal parameters.

    Please feel free to go stick your head in a pig.

    Share and Enjoy!!!

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      You're all going to die down here!

      Hi this is Eddy your Centrica wide computer!

      Rather Eddy than the Red Queen. Wonder if Centrica's sysadmins escaped from the basement?

      1. magickmark

        Re: You're all going to die down here!

        I think the leopard ate them!

    2. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Trollface

      You can't help but thing the whole thing was still a day or two late, even with their time travelling...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Eddie really IS in the space-time continuum!

    4. TomPhan

      But would you like some toast?

    5. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Put 54 Charlee Nine to shame...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PR

    I bet they "value their customers" as well.

    Announcement from White Start Line on news of the Titanic iceberg downtime.

    "We value our customers and we are seeking to leverage the functionality of the ship's lifeboats using best practices to restore personal flotation within industry leading service level targets."

    or something.

  7. JimmyPage
    WTF?

    Why, in the name of all that's holy

    does a central heating thermostat in my house need a round trip to anywhere outside my house to turn the ****ing heating on ?

    Sorry, who thought this was ever a good idea ?

    Given the decreasing quality of almost everything these days, the less I need from any third parties the better.

    1. Filippo

      Re: Why, in the name of all that's holy

      I assume that the thermostat does not actually have a thermostat program on it. It just constantly sends sensor data somewhere, and gets told what to do. This probably made sense to someone who was thinking about absurdly complex thermostat programs that talk to, I dunno, weather services or whatnot, and need to get updated every two hours, because agile.

      And I guess that the notion of having a basic thermostat program available locally, and fall back on it when the server is down, did not occur to them.

      1. JimmyPage
        FAIL

        Re: Why, in the name of all that's holy

        No, you're still not selling it to me.

      2. F0rdPrefect
        Thumb Up

        Re: Why, in the name of all that's holy

        It still works while not connected to the internet, just has to be controlled from the wall rather than the app or computer.

        Since realising that I've disconnected their thingy from my hub.

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: Why, in the name of all that's holy

          So you basically have an overpriced control slapped on your wall?

      3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Why, in the name of all that's holy

        A program that automatically learns the thermal characteristics of your house, reading external & internal temperature sensors so as to control the heating/cooling in order to reach the desired temperature at the time programmed (& keep it there) can easily be written and run on a cheap low power 8 bit CPU. It does not require the power of an external server, and I have never seen any sense in using an external server except to make money by making it a pay service.

        There is absolutely no point in bringing weather forecasts into the mix (which in any event give average temperatures for a region, not the temperature around a particular property).

    2. bigc

      Re: Why, in the name of all that's holy

      The external server does serve a useful purpose. If I've been away from home for a week or two, and it's been very cold, I can turn the heating on remotely a few hours before I get home to warm the house through. Or, conversely, I can turn the heating off remotely if I've gone away and forgotten to do so.

      I guess it's up to the individual whether that's worth the down sides.

      1. Is It Me
        WTF?

        Re: Why, in the name of all that's holy

        That doesn't need a remote server, just a open port or similar on the system to allow you to connect back to it.

        Even if you want to use a remote server for this it should only act as a gateway/forwarding tool where you home device checks in to it regularly to see if there are any instructions for it.

        That way if the remote server or your home's network connection goes down everything local still works (i.e. scheduled temperature changes etc) will still work and only extra changes won't happen.

        This is they way I have seen some Z-Wave home automation systems working, you have the option of signing up for a web service or doing everything locally or both

        1. bigc

          Re: Why, in the name of all that's holy

          I don't think your average gas fitter or consumer would know how to open ports on the router, so I don't think that's a (commercially) practical option. The server approach would be vulnerable to server failures regardless of how things were working.

          I agree, though, that more autonomy would be better, so 'no server' means 'carry on as normal'. Does it not work that way? Ours is under manual control (no timers), so we didn't see much difference.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Why, in the name of all that's holy

            average gas fitter or consumer would know how to open ports on the router

            Much like yer average OpenWoe engineer doesn't really know anything about anything other than how to join a few wires together, plug them into your router and then run the automated test that says everything is working (even when it's not). And then notice that he hasn't actually plugged in the BT interface box and he's trying to feed a G.Fast signal directly into the ethernet port on the back of the router..

            Not that I have recent experience of that of course.

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Why, in the name of all that's holy

        "

        I can turn the heating on remotely

        "

        You do not need an external server in order to do that. You can connect directly to the home thermostat (which could have it's own embedded web server).

  8. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Alien

    Let's do the timewarp again...

    The press release was probably written by their engineer who was scheduled to call on me a few years back between 1pm and 6pm, and left a card through the door at 11:30am saying there was no-one there and to rebook a new appointment (doubly irritating as I was actually in then too, but there was no knock or doorbell ring either).

    1. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: Let's do the timewarp again...

      There was a knock - and if you'd had a stethoscope on the door you may well have heard it.

      I'ver been in the same situation and was lucky enough to be picking up the post when the faintest of knocks happened, the chap was already starting to leave when I opened the door.

  9. F0rdPrefect

    The Register article timed at 13:00, my copy of the email arrived at 17:15

    I wondered what the article was on about.

  10. Scott 53

    Looking on the bright side...

    The boss of Centrica got a 44% pay rise (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47850775), so at least somebody came out of this well

  11. mbdrake

    Email apology?

    Did anybody else receive the post-screw up/apology email? I didn't. Checked spam, checked email logs. Nothing. Nada.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Email apology?

      Did anybody else receive the post-screw up/apology email?

      Chect the contract terms.. Oh - there isn't one? They don't offer guarentee uptime or compensation?

      Oh dear, oh dear..

    2. johnfbw

      Re: Email apology?

      Yes I did receive the email. It blamed an "external supplier"

  12. Joe Montana

    Server requirement?

    So why does the mobile app require a server hosted by centrica anyway? Why can't the phone connect directly to the controller and let you adjust its settings?

    1. TheVogon

      Re: Server requirement?

      How would the phone find the controller when out of the house?

      1. Dave K Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Server requirement?

        Ooh, I don't know. If only there was some sort of system for allowing devices to have an IP address and a port to communicate directly via these by using some sort of international network (we could shorten this to "Internet")...

  13. Black Betty

    Thiotimoline in the coolant?

    < Obligatory body text here >

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Alistair
    Windows

    We called Centrica to gain some clarity on the situation

    You will have to check your mail from a week ago for the reply.

    1. croxed

      They will have answered the question tomorrow

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Home thermostats crashed and burned

    Well it would crash-and-burn seeing as their HiveHome dashboard is connected through twisted pair copper wires designed in the late nineteenth century. And putting your webcam on the Internet isn't going to add security. All it'll do is alert the burger to when you're not home.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its the interconvectiveness of things

    The CEO needed to go to a remote beach in the Bahamas for a month last year to fix the issues with the electric monk.

  17. DJV Silver badge

    "the press office had not responded to our call for comment at the time of writing"

    Don't worry, they'll get back to you last month.

  18. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    That dang flux capacitor messed it up! Take it off the network!

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