Feeds

Oz bank meltdown due to file corruption cock-up

IBM mainframe upgrade downer

High performance access to file storage

The five-day mainframe bank system meltdown at the National Bank of Australia (NAB) was due to a corrupted file on an IBM mainframe system that was being upgraded.

It's reported that staff attempted a mainframe upgrade on Wednesday 25 November, and this failed to complete. It was reversed and this was when, it appears, ongoing payment processing data in a file was corrupted.

It caused payments to stop or to be recorded incorrectly, with some customer accounts having multiple incorrect debits applied. Money transfers to other banks as well as the NAB's own customers were affected.

Private and business customers were prevented from accessing their accounts at ATMs and electronic funds transfer payments stopped. Customers had to attend branches in person to get cash and the bank hurriedly opened some branches on Sunday to cope with the rush. It ran full-page adverts in Australian papers saying how sorry it was.

A payment processing backlog built up. Some customers had interest applied to illusory debts in their accounts, and the bank's support staff had the massive job of rolling everything back to a known good point and then reapplying transactions in strict time to get everything back up to date.

The bank has promised any disadvantaged customers will have their accounts put right.

The NAB production environment has four IBM mainframes in a PLEX, a group of mainframes running z/OS in a Parallel Sysplex cluster that allows them to share data, operate in parallel and provide disaster recovery facilities. In this case a mainframe upgrade provided the backdrop to a disaster the SyspLex was supposed to prevent.

The CIO of National Australia Bank is Michele Tredenick. She has Denis McGee reporting to her as general manager of IT, and he was appointed in summer 2008. He previously worked for ANZ Bank and was heavily involved in architecting its offshored IT operations in Bangalore.

NAB has built up its offshore mainframe support and maintenance work in recent years, and has been working with Infosys and Satyam Computer Services on the maintenance of core banking systems in this regard.

At the time of McGee's appointment NAB was developing an overhaul of its legacy banking systems in a Aus$1bn four to five year project. This upgrade appears to have been cancelled.

In February 2009 NAB suspended a project to outsource more IT work to Satyam because that firm's long-term future was unclear. Satyam retained its existing NAB maintenance and application development work though.

The bank has not said how the file was corrupted, and the suspicion is that data in the file was screwed up during the failed upgrade and roll-back process.

NAB, which has been reapplying transactions to customer accounts from the known point before the failure, is predicting that all of its customer accounts should be back to normal tomorrow. The bank faces class action lawsuits, and it is very likely that a senior IT management head or two will have to be lopped off to appease customers.

If lousy offshore support is shown to be a factor, then the whole offshoring of support is liable to be re-examined. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed
Windows 7 making some gains on XP Death Day
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
US taxman blows Win XP deadline, must now spend millions on custom support
Gov't IT likened to 'a Model T with a lot of things on top of it'
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.