BNZ storage failure embarrasses vendor

Failure of a high-end enterprise data storage system at the Bank of New Zealand has irritated bank officials and embarrassed vendor EMC - the second time a recent technology failure on its part has affected the banking industry in New Zealand. Causes of the crash have been resolved, but the bank is not prepared to go into specifics.

Failure of a high-end enterprise data storage system at the Bank of New Zealand has irritated bank officials and embarrassed vendor EMC — the second time a recent technology failure on its part has affected the banking industry in New Zealand.

Core applications at the BNZ were halted when an EMC Symmetrix 5500 storage system crashed about three weeks ago at the bank's Wellington headquarters. The problem, first detected by BNZ technical staff at about 5.30am, was eventually traced to a faulty controller.

BNZ's systems were offline for about 90 minutes, says Hayden Park, group media and public relations manager of the National Australia Bank (NAB), which owns BNZ. It took four hours to completely restore BNZ's IT systems to normal. Causes of the crash have been resolved, but the bank is not prepared to go into specifics, Park says.

Other sources say the bank was not impressed by the time needed to recover data in the wake of the crash. In the end, BNZ technicians had to rebuild critical logs for data held by the 5500, which supports an IBM DB/2 database in an IBM MVS mainframe environment. Park says no live data was lost because of the crash.

Though high-end data storage systems rarely fail, the incident marks the second occasion that gremlins have struck New Zealand-based 5500s in recent times. A similar system operated by EDS crashed on December 22, causing major disruptions to the banking system.

Then EDS CEO Eddie Bates said at the time that it was a relatively new piece of equipment that had been sold throughout the world.

"It was eventually discovered that there was an element of micro-code that had a fault in it from manufacture.

"That was the first such occurrence in the world. When it fell over we had an enormous task determining the state of the files. Only once we had recreated the files could we restart the overnight processing," he said.

EMC marketing manager Megan James initially agreed to talk about both failures but subsequently said it was the company's policy not to talk about its clients.

She confirmed, though, another 90-minute bank outage, at St George Bank in Australia this month. St George is an EMC site but that outage, she said, had nothing to do with EMC.

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