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Borough Changes Web Hosts, May Expedite Website Overhaul

After the company that had been subcontracted to provide the borough's web hosting went out of business, Fair Lawn has signed on for hosting from Go Big Studios in Hawthorne.

The Fair Lawn borough website is on the mend with a new web host after the subcontractor tasked with hosting the site unexpectedly went out of business earlier this week; but the recovery phase could take a while.

For now, the borough has decided to move forward with a shell of its former website, focusing on restoring the homepage with the information it feels is most vital and worrying about the site's look and its internal pages later.

Borough manager Tom Metzler said this week's website failure is likely to expedite the town's recently-discussed plans to move ahead with a complete website makeover.

"There are capital funds available to us to do that so I’m going to make a recommendation to council that we just go ahead and do the upgrade now," he said. "Why not just do it now as opposed to spending the time and money to restore this, and then spending it again six months from now to put the new version of what we’re looking to do up?"

Fair Lawn's borough website and email system went down Tuesday afternoon, rendering the site inaccessible and its email system — used by employees, as well as the mayor and council, to connect with residents — non-functional.

Despite multiple attempts to contact its web host, MJR Solutions, the borough heard nothing for almost two full days. It finally received the unfortunate news from MJR late Thursday morning.

"We have been made aware by our original website host provider that they subcontracted our website hosting to somebody else," assistant borough manager Jim Van Kruiningen said. "That company, they believe, has gone out of business. They’ve just locked their doors, shut everything down and have gone out of business."

Van Kruiningen said the borough was unaware that its hosting had been subcontracted to a third party. He said he had no idea when the contract was subbed nor the name of the apparently now-defunct subcontractor.

Within an hour of learning that its web host had gone under, the borough got in touch with Hawthorne-based Go Big Studios, the police department's website host, to take over hosting of the borough and community center websites and begin transferring over their website data. As of 9 p.m. Friday, the nuts and bolts of the borough website homepage and some internal pages had been restored, but the community center website was still down.

Metzler said Thursday afternoon that he expected full e-mail service would be restored by Monday, if not earlier, and that an unformatted version of the borough's former website would be up by the middle of next week.

"It’ll stay up that way until council either says, ‘No, restore what’s there,' or 'go ahead and spend the money and move forward with the new system,'" Metzler said.

Metzler said at the next work session he'll recommend the council contract with Connecticut-based Qscend Technologies, Inc. to perform the town's website overhaul, which will improve the site's interactivity and allow residents to conduct municipal business from the comfort of their homes, 24 hours a day.

Qscend has 46 municipal customers in New Jersey, including the village of Ridgewood and eight other Bergen county municipalities, Van Kruiningen said.

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Ezra P. September 22, 2012 at 11:39 AM
In an ideal world, it seems to me that the company that did the subcontracting should be liable in some sense. Did the contract have any guarantees? It certainly did not provide the 99.9% uptime guarantee touted on their website - or the 24 hour support. There was loss of work productivity of the borough - costing us real money, there is the cost to move to the new hosting provider, there is the cost for a redesign, etc. Also - where are the backups? Are they with the subcontractor? In theory - looking at MJR's website, one could backup to your home computer with a press of a button, Was anyone making backups? Who at Fair Lawn is responsible for overseeing the site - and not doing this? With the new provider - what backup guarantees are there? What if they subcontract or go out of business? Lots of unanswered questions....
David Fidler September 22, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Who negotiated and signed the contract? I manage contracts all of the time and they are all quite on when and if a subcontract can occur along with what controls and penalties are in place. Of course, based on how craptacular the site was, this wasn't viewed to be much of a concern.
Ezra P. September 23, 2012 at 03:22 AM
There is also the cost of the original site design... The company claimed it offered design services. If those were paid for - FL is now throwing it out instead of recovering it....
NeverEnds September 23, 2012 at 04:19 PM
MJM, what usually preceeds an excuse?
Deleted because of harassment September 23, 2012 at 07:19 PM
The site design was done in-house by the webmaster, Ron Lottermann. The previous host had nothing to do with it. Some of the individual pages were managed by their departments or the page's "owners", like the Garden Committee and the Community Center. I did the pages for the Garden Committee when I was a member. As for the site, I agree that it needs a serious refreshing. And I am amazed at the irresponsiblity of the company that was hosting it, both in subcontracting it and that they didn't know the subcontractor was unstable and in danger of going out of business.

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