Reg comments15

3Par brought down Australian Tax Office with >REDACTED<

HPE admits to contract fail, will give failed kit forensic analysis but may also crimp report

Hewlett Packard Enterprise “failed to deliver on the contractual terms” it agreed with Australia's Taxation Office after 3Par storage arrays twice failed at the Office, according to commissioner of taxation Chris Jordan. But the cause of the problems may never be publicly revealed.

Speaking before a Senate Estimates* hearing last week, Jordan acknowledged the two outages and said “Nothing like the failure we experienced has been experienced by any Hewlett Packard client before, so this was an extremely unusual and unfortunate event.”

So unusual was the outage that HPE has asked to take the problematic arrays back to HQ for forensic analysis, Jordan told the hearing.

The Register has been told, by other 3Par customers, that HPE believes cabling was damaged when the arrays were moved and the commissioner's statement to the hearing advanced that theory as he offered the following analysis of the outages:

“When you look at the spectrum of IT services, the storage of data is something that normally just works. Cabling and storage facilities are not seen as high-risk things—this is why this has been particularly unusual, because these are things are typically seen as pretty solid in the general scheme of things.”

Jordan also said that HPE “... acknowledged that they were providing a turnkey solution to us to provide data storage facilities, that their equipment failed and that they failed to deliver on the contractual terms.”

But it appears the Office's contract with HPE may prevent the true nature of the outages becoming public, because Jordan also remarked on the independent report into the incidents, currently being conducted by PWC. “I flag that it is likely that not all of the report will be published due to legal and commercial sensitivities,” he said.

The Register is aware that 3Par customers continue to press HPE for a detailed account of the outage, as they are keen to know how to avoid catastrophic failures!

Users may also be interested to know that HPE's patch-up jobs were good: the systems are now working well enough to have handled a quarterly tax reporting season without a hitch.

Jordan's testimony also revealed that his Office is conducting seven audits of multinational companies, under Australia's new multinational tax avoidance crackdown. Four of the target companies are e-commerce outfits and Jordan said the total tax haul from the seven audits is expected to reach “in excess of AU$2 billion”. Jordan added that “some are likely to go to litigation.”

The Register will keep an eye out for the PWC report and news of which e-commerce companies the Tax Office has been chasing. ®

*Estimates hearings see Senators quiz public servants on the state of the agencies they lead. Questions can touch on almost any topic.

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