Air NZ mainframe flies over to Gen-i

No significant change in relationship with IBM, says Air NZ CIO

IBM has lost its contract to host Air New Zealand's mainframe, which will now be moved to a facility owned by Gen-i. The airline is understood to have decided to make the change after IBM delayed the opening of a new state-of-the-art datacentre in Auckland. Air New Zealand chief information officer Julia Raue says it does not signal a significant change in the relationship between the airline and IBM. It has wanted to move the mainframe to a more robust facility since a power failure at the IBM-run Newton datacentre resulted in a disastrous systems crash in October. The outage caused the cancellation of dozens of flights and earned a public tongue-lashing for IBM from the airline. Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe said in an internal email leaked in the aftermath of the outage that he struggled to recall a time when a supplier had been so unwilling to accept responsibility and apologise to its client "and its client's customers". A source said the relationship between the companies had since improved. It has not been revealed whether IBM paid the airline compensation. IBM will continue to support the mainframe at the Gen-i facility and manage the Newton datacentre, which will continue to house other Air New Zealand systems until at least 2012. It is understood that the financial impact on IBM of losing the mainframe hosting contract will therefore be small. The failure at the Newton datacentre was blamed on a faulty oil pressure sensor. It is understood IBM was relying on a single generator to power the airline's mainframe during scheduled maintenance on an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) attached to the datacentre's main power supply. Experts said it appeared the centre — originally built by Air New Zealand — was not best equipped to host mission-critical applications. Commenting at the time, Ron Hughes, the president of California Data Centre Design Group, a United States consulting firm that specialises in datacentre power systems, said IBM appeared to have followed "standard operating procedure", but questioned the reliance on a single back-up generator. IBM announced in December that it would construct a modern datacentre in Auckland, forecasting it would spent $80 million building it, fitting it out and operating it over 10 years. IBM hoped then that the centre would be ready by the end of the year, but it is not now expected to open until some time in 2011. Another source said approval for the datacentre investment was repeatedly delayed as managers in Australia and the United States dithered over whether to approve the business case. IBM technology services manager Greg Farmer says it looks forward to offering Air New Zealand space at its new datacentre, when it opens.

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