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IBM's DB2 blamed for Danish banking crisis

Kroners in the wind

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Danske Bank is pointing fingers at IBM's DB2 database as the culprit for a massive outage that caused the Danish bank's trading desks, currency exchange and communications with other banks to shut down.

The problems first started on March 10 when IBM's technical division staff came in to replace a defective power unit in an IBM Ramac Virtual Array (RVA) storage system. An electrical outage occurred during the repairs, which caused operations at one of the bank's two operating centers to come to a halt.

After much work, the system was ready to be restarted and all the engineers nearby held their breath.

The batch runs began, and tears started to shed. They were not running correctly.

"Even though the re-start of DB2 database software went normally, a combination of circumstances was creating inconsistencies in the data," Danske Bank wrote in its report (pdf) on the debacle. This first software error in DB2 database software had existed in all similar installations since 1997, without IBM's knowledge."

Danske Bank worked for three days trying to recover the data with more and more DB2 failures occurring and slowing the process down. The database disasters punished the bank for a week and had some effects on the Danish economy.

One reader said the Nationalbanken was forced to inject 5 billion kroners into the banking sector to help push transactions through.

Danske Bank has retaliated with its damning take on the affairs but is not stopping there. The reader says that Danske Bank wants IBM to pay for direct and indirect damages caused by the crash, which could amount to 50 million kroners ($7.2 mill USD), according to Danish TV reports.

Ari Fishkind, a program manager at IBM, declined to comment on such rumors.

He did, however, say that IBM had worked to solve the problem and issue fixes for other customers.

"The circumstances that led to this situation were highly unusual and no other customers have reported a similar DB2 issue," he said.

The bank is pledging to improve its IT systems at a cost of 100 million kroners. It has canned an ad-campaign that stated, "Do what you do best. That's what we do!"

IBM might also consider pulling a case study in which the company "Delivers Solid Returns for Danske Bank."

Solid returns indeed. ®

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