Centrelink blames UPS for datacentre outage

Centrelink claims maintenance work on its backup power supply caused a datacentre outage last week — the second such failure in as many years.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Centrelink claims maintenance work on its backup power supply caused a datacentre outage last week — the second such failure in as many years.

On Friday, services to Centrelink's clients in NSW, Victoria and Tasmania were unavailable due to an outage at one of the agency's Canberra-based datacentres.

The outage was caused by urgent maintenance to the datacentre's UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply), a spokesperson for Centrelink told ZDNet.com.au today.

Verizon Business manages Centrelink's UPS. John Karabin, general manager for its Canberra federal government operations, told ZDNet.com.au that Centrelink was advised of the maintenance on Thursday — the day before Centrelink issued a warning.

"All customers were informed on Thursday that scheduled maintenance would occur ... We picked up some anomalies and informed customers that we need to do an upgrade and repair. We decided, due to the critical nature of the systems, that it should be done as soon as possible," said Karabin.

General manager for Centrelink Hank Jongen on Friday issued a statement warning of the outage, hours before the disruption.

This is not the first time Centrelink has blamed its Verizon-managed UPS for datacentre outages.

In August 2006 a problem with Canberra's power grid caused an outage at one of Centrelink's datacentres, however the Verizon-managed UPS was blamed for Centrelink's mainframe subsequently crashing.

At the time, the Minister Joe Hockey of the Department of Human Services was "not impressed".

"Needless to say that Jeff Whalan, who's the head of Centrelink, and myself were firstly not impressed, because we assumed that we had proper power backups," said Hockey.

Verizon's Karabin said Hockey's accusation was unfair.

The issue of datacentre power is high on Centrelink's agenda, according to chief information officer John Wadeson who, in a recent video interview with ZDNet.com.au, called the datacentre "a monster".

"I might have worries about all the power we need for our datacentres and why can't we do this and do that ... power can be an issue," he said.

"Someone told me recently that for something like 70 percent of CIOs, power for datacentres is an issue ... I don't think we're going to be able to duck that one entirely."

"The datacentres use a lot of power, but people are consolidating a lot of their equipment in the datacentre. The datacentres ... they are these monsters that consume a lot of power — particularly because the virtualisation process has been a lot slower for organisations than they might have hoped."

For the full interview with John Wadeson, go to the ZDNet.com.au CIO Vision Series page.

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