Was panicking contractor behind BA’s IT systems failure?
People choose British Airways over budget airlines to avoid the chaos that those cheaper firms are often associated with. However, BA customers didn’t expect the company to suffer a catastrophic IT outage that caused tens of thousands of passengers to be stranded at airports, some without luggage. Is anyone to blame for this huge IT systems failure?
BA’s Chief Executive, Alex Cruz, stated that a power surge on Saturday 27th May caused the airline’s IT systems to collapse, when the company’s data centre (known as BoHo) went down for more than 15 minutes. Cruz confirms, however, that it wasn’t the actual shutdown that caused the issues for the firm; instead, it was the uncontrolled restoration of power. However, why the second data centre did not pick up the failover is still a mystery.
BoHo supposedly replaced its hardware three years ago, installing uninterruptible power supplies that should in theory have provided 2.4MW of backup juice. Even though sources have confirmed that the power failure could have happened, there is still a lot of confusion surrounding the events (see http://www.silicon.co.uk/cloud/datacenter/british-airways-power-outage-213527).
Who caused it?
Sources have confirmed that if the power control software that controls the various feeds into the data centre didn’t seamlessly switch from battery to backup at the critical moment, the technical failure that resulted is a plausible explanation for the series of events. However, some have suggested that a likely scenario is that a member of staff working at the data centre could have interrupted the automatic switchover sequence in a panic, thereby causing the servers to experience a breakdown. It may be time for the airline to consider new hardware such as Eaton UPS systems (http://www.cppsales.com/Eaton_UPS_Systems___Accessories-catid17) to prevent any similar technical failures occurring again.
What is the outcome?
BA and all other involved parties insist that the outsourcing of IT systems isn’t to blame for the accident, yet many are still pointing the finger. Since the disruption, BA has agreed to publish its investigation’s findings. However, it is unclear if this will shed much light on the devastating occurrences, for which The Times has estimated a loss of around £150 million. In light of the events, the GMB trade union has also put a stop to the outsourcing of 600 IT jobs at BA’s parent company IAG as they await the findings.
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