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EDS mainframe goes titsup, crashes RBS cheque system

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HP managers are reaping the harvest of their deep cost-cutting at EDS, in the form of a massive mainframe failure that crippled some very large clients, including the taxpayer-owned bank RBS.

An IBM Z10 at EDS's Stockley Park site, west of London, fell over this week after vital microcode fixes* had not been applied, because all the qualified staff had been fired.

Previously the updates would have been applied by the Stockley Park hardware team, who have all been made redundant.

When EDS' disaster recovery plan kicked in, switching processes to another Z10 at Mitcheldean in Gloucestershire, a similar lack of maintenance scuppered the stand-in machine.

The mainframe operations group that dealt with the disaster has also been much reduced in the HP era.

One impact, among many, was that RBS's cheque clearing system, based on software called Connect Direct, was down for "at least 12 hours", according to insiders. The backlog is now "astronomical", they said.

Soon after HP bought EDS for $13.9bn last year, it announced plans to chop 24,600 jobs world wide. In the UK the cuts have caused union uproar, and last week HP narrowly avoided a strike by workers on Ministry of Defence and Department of Work and Pensions contracts.

Neither HP nor RBS immediately responded to requests for comment. ®

*HP responded after this story was published that the problem was in fact a hardware failure, not a software issue. Additionally the Mitcheldean back up system was not used, and so did not have any problems.

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