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'Powerful blast' at Glasgow City Council data centre prompts IT meltdown

'Business at the council has ground to a halt'

Bagpiper in a kilt. Photo via Shutterstock

The catastrophic service outage at Glasgow City Council's data centre, caused after its IT systems servers were taken down by a fire suppressant accidentally going off, is continuing to cause widespread havoc for staff and the public.

The embarrassing blunder was caused by a faulty air conditioning unit setting off its fire suppressant system on Tuesday morning.

A spokesman said the suppressant system released a "powerful blast of gas" which shook the building.

A source told The Register that the malfunction caused damage to various equipment, including its IBM storage array, which hosts the data for many of the council’s systems – including the Microsoft Exchange email system, the social work client database, and the council tax and benefits systems.

"So essentially business at the council has ground to a halt," the source told us today. "Until late yesterday afternoon many of the contact centre services were also unavailable due to the part of the Cisco phone system that hosts the contact centre experiencing a malfunction."

He added: "Many staff cannot even log in to their PCs as their computer cannot log in to the network - a particular problem in schools, as all primary schools login to servers in that data centre."

"Perhaps more problematic is the fact that there was no backup provision at all for the majority of systems. In fact, one of the only systems that is still working is the financial SAP system, which was only recently replaced."

The council said on its Twitter feed today: "Our email system is down. If you have emailed us since yesterday morning we have been unable to deal with it."

It also tweeted: "We’re still experiencing problems with our main switchboard number. You can use http://www.glasgow.gov.uk to make payments, report faults, etc."

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said it was not true that business had ground to a halt a result of the incident.

"It is important to note that staff at the council who deliver critical services to the public are still able to do so successfully," he said.

"All our data was backed up and the business continuity plans in place meant those services were manually delivered." ®

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