JP Morgan Chase's IT failure: An apology and some informed speculation

Customers whacked by JP Morgan Chase's information system debacle---the bank's online banking site was down for three days---finally got an apology, but it's still a little fuzzy about what exactly went wrong.

Customers whacked by JP Morgan Chase's information system debacle---the bank's online banking site was down for three days---finally got an apology, but it's still a little fuzzy about what exactly went wrong.

JP Morgan Chase's online site crashed Monday night and stayed offline through Wednesday. On Thursday, the bank said:

We are sorry for the difficulties that recently affected Chase.com, and we apologize for not communicating better with you during this issue. Giving you 24-hour access to your banking is of the utmost importance to us. This was not the level of service we know you expect, and we will work hard to serve you better in the future and to communicate with you better if a situation like this should arise again.

Online Bill Payments scheduled for September 13, 14 or 15 were processed by Wednesday night, September 15. It is not necessary to reschedule these payments. If you scheduled a payment during those dates, but do not see it reflected in your payment activity by September 16, please contact us.

We will refund any late fees that you may have incurred as a result of our delay in processing your payment.

Thank you for your patience and for the opportunity to work harder to serve you in the future.

The big question here is what exactly went wrong. Computerworld notes that JP Morgan Chase blamed a third party database company's software. That third party is Oracle. Curt Monash, principle of Monash Research, offered some informed speculation in a blog post. Citing tips from readers of his DBMS 2 blog, Monash said:

  • A corruption in the Oracle database led to the outage;
  • The Oracle database stored user profiles;
  • Portals, ACH transactions, loan applications and trading portfolio access for private clients (ie the wealthy types) were affected.

The overall conclusion from Monash is that JP Morgan Chase wasn't to blame. More details are likely to emerge. Let's hope JP Morgan Chase does a thorough post mortem. These days banks are their online sites.

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