Feeds

NetApp shoots down Virgin Blue outage claims

Nothing to do with us, mate

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

NetApp has said none of its technology was involved in the Australian Virgin Blue airline reservation system crash on Sunday.

On Sunday and Monday a 21-hour outage of the New Skies system, hosted at Navitaire's Sydney data centre, on Monday caused mass delays to Virgin Blue's customers as the airline reverted to a manual system. The airline had to pay accommodation costs for some customers and the total cost of the outage could run into millions of Australian dollars.

SearchStorage ANZ reported that NetApp said: "no NetApp technology nor any technology acquired from NetApp was linked to the recent outage at Navitaire.”

Navitaire is a business processing outsourcing subsidiary of Accenture and offers New Skies as a private cloud service to a large number of airlines. The crash started when there was a failure in Navitaire's solid state disk server infrastructure. The company uses a Texas Memory Systems RamSan 500 NAND solid state memory array, whose storage resources are presented to users via a NetApp V-Series controller front end. The V-Series was not involved in the outage and nor was any other NetApp kit, according to NetApp's statement.

It is unusual for a solid state drive array to have a failure that causes software using it to crash or that corrupts data in the array to such an extent that a complete airline reservation system, whose database is resident in the solid state device, crashes.

The RamSan-500 offers up to 2TB of cached Flash RAID and 64 GB of DDR cache in a package that can produce 100,000 random sustained IOPS. The data in RAM is protected with ECC and Chipkill. The RAM cache is battery-backed up with redundant batteries. The flash storage is deployed in nine RAID-3 protected, hot swappable, modules. Each module also has ECC memory layouts, wear-leveling, and bad-block retirement.

With this set of protection features it is hard to understand how a RamSan hardware failure could cause the outage. Texas Memory Systems has said it has been working non-stop with Navitaire on the issue to find its root cause.

Navitaire's statement on the outage to Virgin Blue said it tried to "repair the device" and this attempt delayed the "cutover to a contingency hardware platform." Why that cutover wasn't managed for 21 hours is a mystery.

Navitaire has a service-level agreement with Virgin Blue requiring to it to fix computer system failures in a short time. In this outage it did not do so, suggesting that its disaster recovery and failover procedures were inadequate to the demand put on them

Richard Branson, the head of the Virgin Group, has apologised to affected customers for the computer systems failure.

The New Skies system failed again this morning, between 5.10am and 7am Australian Eastern Standard Time. Virgin Blue switched to a manual process again. Virgin Blue said in a statement that it: "experienced a slowdown of its network at the start of the day which caused some consequential delays."

Virgin Blue selected Navitaire's New Skies platform in June, 2009. Navitaire says "New Skies is a comprehensive airline passenger sales and management solution providing capabilities for integrated Internet booking, call centre reservations, travel agency global distribution connectivity, inter-airline and alliance code-share itineraries, real-time reporting, ancillary revenue generation and departure control."

There have been problems reported previously with the New Skies software, with Virgin Blue, Jetstar and RyanAir all encountering system failures.

How Accenture (motto: "Go on; be a tiger") could design and implement an airline reservation system that crashes for 21 hours with no fast fail-over or business continuance facility is puzzling. The company would obviously design in such a facility for vital software operating in real-time with thousands of customers a day, wouldn't it?

Instead of being a tiger it put customer Virgin Blue in a hole and kept it there for nearly a whole day. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Sysadmin Day 2014: Quick, there's still time to get the beers in
He walked over the broken glass, killed the thugs... and er... reconnected the cables*
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
SHOCK and AWS: The fall of Amazon's deflationary cloud
Just as Jeff Bezos did to books and CDs, Amazon's rivals are now doing to it
BlackBerry: Toss the server, mate... BES is in the CLOUD now
BlackBerry Enterprise Services takes aim at SMEs - but there's a catch
The triumph of VVOL: Everyone's jumping into bed with VMware
'Bandwagon'? Yes, we're on it and so what, say big dogs
Carbon tax repeal won't see data centre operators cut prices
Rackspace says electricity isn't a major cost, Equinix promises 'no levy'
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.