Queen’s Birthday Eftpos crash blamed on software

An as-yet-unidentified software fault caused much of New Zealand's Eftpos network to crash on the Queen's Birthday holiday, according to Electronic Transaction Services general manager Ken Hennessy. He denies that the system is struggling to cope with the sheer volume of customer demand in this country.

An as-yet-unidentified software fault caused much of New Zealand’s Eftpos network to crash on the Queen’s Birthday holiday, according to Electronic Transaction Services general manager Ken Hen-nessy. ETS processes 80% of the country’s ATM transactions.

Hennessy confirms that one processor of the system’s Tandem non-stop computer failed, and a fault in the application software prevented the rest of the processors from picking up the load.

“It was not the Tandem software that failed, but something in the application layer. I hesitate to call it a bug, but we’re not sure what went wrong at this stage,” he says.

The Advantage application software was supplied by Milwaukee-based Deluxe Data Systems. File dumps of what was happening before, during and after the crash have been sent to the US for examination.

While Hennessy points out that the size, extent and complexity of New Zealand’s Eftpos network is not mirrored anywhere else in the world, he denies the system is struggling to cope with the sheer volume of customer demand in this country.

“The system has sufficient power to handle 75 transactions per second. When this fault occurred, we were running at about 21 transactions per second.

“My feeling is we’re close to identifying the critical process that caused the switch to shut down. It may be a sizing or tuning thing, where insufficient space or power has been allocated. We haven’t had a major outage for two years. We just have to wait and see, and hope it will remain a stable Eftpos switch for at least another two years.”

Hennessy adds this failure is unrelated to the problem which brought down the ANZ Bank’s Eftpos network late last year. That crash, he says, was caused by a power failure.

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