According to the ATO, once the integrity of the new system is confirmed, it intends to implement three follow-on priorities: making services available to key impacted stakeholders; building system resilience to best ensure the stability of services to the community; and increasing the capacity of systems to deliver the services the community expects.
At the same time, the agency confirmed that issues with its hardware were at the bottom of the initial systems outage in early December and the most recent outage, which hit at the beginning of February, and continued for a number of days, following its initial efforts to swap-out its affected hardware.
“While recognising that PwC [PricewaterhouseCoopers] are undertaking an independent review into the outages, we can confirm that hardware faults caused both the December outage and this outage, although we understand that the exact nature of the respective faults is different,” the ATO said.
“We recognise the ongoing impact this is having on our stakeholders and the broader community and thank them for their ongoing patience,” it said.
The agency has spent the better part of the past seven weeks working to restore its systems to full capacity, retrieve temporarily lost data, and replace affected hardware, following the “unprecedented” failure of storage hardware that had been upgraded in November 2015 by HPE.
It is understood that the outage involved two new HPE 3Par storage area network (SAN) units acquired by the ATO in 2015.
The restoration work has seen the ATO intermittently take its systems offline since the problems first hit, over two weekends in January, and during the Christmas holiday period.
Soon after trouble first struck, on December 16, Australia’s Commissioner of Taxation, Chris Jordan, referred to the incident as the “worst unplanned system outage in recent memory”.
“This was an extremely unusual and unfortunate event with the outage caused by a significant and unprecedented failure of storage hardware,” Jordan said at the time.
While the ATO has called in PwC to investigate the cause of the initial hardware failure and the resulting outage, HPE confirmed in late December that it had launched its own internal investigation into the cause of the hardware failure.