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Morgan Chase blames Oracle for online bank crash

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JP Morgan Chase online banking services crashed in New York last week, and the outage has been laid at Oracle's door.

The bank's online services were unavailable for Monday night and Tuesday, with service restored very early on Wednesday. The crash prevented the bank's 16.5 million online customers carrying out online banking transactions such as bill payments, loan applications, automated clearing house transactions and private client trading portfolio access.

Chase's telephone banking service and its 15,500 cash machines were unaffected.

There was a subsequent outage on Wednesday, apparently due to the huge number of access retries after the initial restoration of service. Altogether about $132m in automated clearing house transactions was delayed by the cock-up, and about 1,000 car loan applications and a similar number of student loan applications were lost.

According to Curt Monash, a database industry commentator, Chase said a third party supplier's database software corrupted systems information and this prevented customers logging in to Chase.com.

Monash said JP Morgan Chase runs its user profile Oracle database on a cluster of eight Solaris T4520 servers, each with 64GB of RAM, with the data held on EMC storage. El Reg is told that Oracle support staff pointed the finger of blame at an EMC SAN controller but that was given the all-clear on Monday night.

Monash subsequently posted that the outage was caused by corruption in an Oracle database which stored user profiles. Four files in the database were awry and this corruption was replicated in the hot backup.

Recovery was accomplished by restoring the database from a Saturday night backup, and then by reapplying 874,000 transactions during the Tuesday.

Chase said it would refund any late payment fees that had been sent to affected customers.

At first, and then almost two days after the outage began, Chase said its site was unavailable due to "scheduled maintenance", a fatuous attempt in our view to avoid admitting that its systems fouled up. This lack of communication followed by miscommunication caused customers to vent their outrage on Twitter. The bank subsequently emailed an apology to its customers.

Monash points out that JP Morgan Chase has an ongoing project looking at replacing the Oracle database, possibly with IBM's DB2. This is an unwelcome reminder of Oracle database fallibility given that Oracle is holding Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco this week. ®

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