ATO will send outage HPE drives for testing in the US

ATO will send outage HPE drives for testing in the US

HPE SAN drives will be shipped back to global HQ for analysis

The storage drives responsible for the series of outages at The Australian Tax Office (ATO) website will be sent back to Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) headquarters to determine the cause of the problem.

ATO commissioner, Chris Jordan, told a Senate Estimates Committee on 1 March that the two storage drives would be sent back to the US for testing, as soon as it was safe to do so.

According to Jordan, it is likely that this will happen in June this year.

“The SANs had only just been installed in November 2015, and were still considered state of the art,” Jordan said. “On the spectrum of IT services, storage is something that usually that just works. It is not considered high risk.”

Jordan, who has been critical of HPE’s conduct in relation to the outage in the past, again expressed his frustration to the committee that the 3PAR SANs from the vendor were not up to the task and that efforts to rectify the outage caused added layers of issues.

The ATO suffered a second outage in February which resulted in ATO and HPE staff working long hours to restore services.

The tax office called in professional services company, PwC, to conduct an independent audit of the outage and provide a report to determine how to prevent future outages.

“The review will help us to fully understand what happened and why, and what needs to be done to ensure we are not exposed to this type of incident in future,” the ATO said in a statement on January 24. “The PwC review is due to be finalised in March.”

However, due to what Jordan described as “legal commercial sensitivities”, the entire PwC report, due this month, may not be released.

HPE launched its own audit of what caused the 3PAR SANs to fail in December 2016, which coincided with the tax office’s own investigation.

The tax commissioner reiterated HPE’s claim that the failure was a one-off and would not affect other users of the vendor’s storage technology.

In a statement sent to ARN on 9 February, HPE said “We believe the disruption started when a solid state drive used by major storage vendors failed.

“HPE and the drive vendor have determined that the condition was triggered by a rare issue under a set of circumstances that have never previously been encountered.

“ATO and HPE are conducting a thorough review of exactly what occurred with the ATO systems and until that review is complete it would not be appropriate to further speculate on the architectural changes that might be made or additional redundancy solutions that might be deployed to improve the inherent reliability of the ATO systems.”

Since the issues at the ATO and issues during the 2016 census, the Federal Government has launched a review of all the IT contracts it has with its external providers worth over $10 million.

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