Westpac killed its own services after fault

Summary:It has been revealed that Westpac staff yesterday made an executive decision to turn off the bank's online banking, EFTPOS and ATM network rather than failover to a disaster recovery site in order to "save time".

It has been revealed that Westpac staff yesterday made an executive decision to turn off the bank's online banking, EFTPOS and ATM network rather than failover to a disaster recovery site in order to "save time".

It was originally thought that an air conditioning fault in Westpac's datacentre environment had forced the services offline, with Westpac scrambling to restore service throughout the day. While there was an air conditioning fault, it is now apparent that Westpac made the decision itself to switch off systems to prevent damage to the infrastructure from high temperatures. An alternative would have been to switch systems to a disaster recovery site, but the bank said it had decided that this would take too long.

"We did take the decision to focus on restoring services from the impacted datacentre rather than switch to our backup systems, as it would have taken more time to do so," said Paul Marriage, head of media relations for Westpac.

A full review has been promised by Westpac executives; however, Marriage said that Westpac isn't looking to point fingers over the fault in the air conditioning, which is managed by an external maintenance provider.

"As to who's to blame … it's a Westpac responsibility and through our review we'll get to the bottom of it and make sure it gets fixed and processes get fixed around it but at this stage, for our customers, it doesn't help them if Westpac gets into a blame game."

Marriage wouldn't be drawn on whether Westpac would be looking to switch maintenance providers following the outage.

The system meltdown struck customers early yesterday morning, forcing ATMs, online banking and website services offline.

Westpac gradually restored services throughout the day, with headaches flowing down to customers such as CityRail, which was unable sell tickets via EFTPOS.

Westpac's card customers also experienced issues booking tickets for popular music festival Splendour in the Grass. Ticket sales were suspended overnight after some music fans missed out, with sales going live again at 9am this morning.

The outage came after Westpac announced a record half-yearly profit figure of $3.96 billion this week.

According the Marriage, the review is "ongoing".

Topics: Outage, Banking, Data Centers

About

A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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