IBM data centre crash tortures businesses

IBM's $80 million data centre in South Auckland has now been down for more than 30 hours and customers say the outage is having a serious impact on their businesses.

One east Auckland school has been left completely stranded in the same week that it hosts a visit from the Education Review Office (ERO).

IBM said today from Sydney that it had a team of global experts working on the outage as a high priority.

"While working to resolve the outage of New Zealand Virtual Server Services, a new technical issue was experienced which continues to affect the delivery of this particular service from the data centre," a spokesperson said.

Problems at the Highbrook Park data centre started at about 3am yesterday and are believed to have stemmed from a hardware fault. IBM has not confirmed what caused the outage or when it expects the problem to be fixed.

Businesses and schools reliant on the data centre - which allows companies to store and access digital information in the cloud, removing the need for them to own and maintain computer servers - are now facing their second day affected by the fault.

Elim Christian College principal Murray Burton said his school's junior campus relied on a cloud-based internal management system which was currently knocked out.

The fault had caused major problems for staff and students in the past two days and the timing was especially bad, he said.

"We've got ERO here this week and I can't even access up-to-date enrollment details. It's very frustrating," he said.

"We wanted to show ERO our wonderful work in embracing this new device programme but we can't show them anything."

Burton said as schools became increasingly reliant on cloud-based services, problems like this would have a major impact.

"You become at the mercy of such outages."

Localist chief executive Blair Glubb said his company's website had now been down for more than 30 hours.

"It's not particularly good when everything you do is online. It's affecting us and our customers but IBM has a large number of other customers on that data centre.

"In the scheme of things, it's only one day out of 365 but it's undoubtedly having a very real business impact on us."

IBM had raised the problem to 'critical status' which was their most serious grade of issue, Glubb said.

"We expect to be back online today but maybe with another provider. They (IBM) don't have an ETA as of 10 minutes ago (9:00am)."

Maclean, an IT company which offers cloud-based solutions, had only "one or two" clients using the data centre but staff had a "hectic" day yesterday due to the fault, said a spokesperson.

IBM was in the final stages of resolving the outage now, he said.

IBM opened its the 5200 square metre data centre in May 2011.

On its website, IBM describes the data centre as "a local New Zealand cloud" designed with Kiwi businesses in mind.

"This enterprise-class cloud services delivers a secure and scalable-hosted IT infrastructure with on-demand access to virtual server and storage resources enabling you to create your own virtual data centre."

The building contains a 1500 square metre raised floor, able to hold up to 720 server racks and is kept at an even temperature by 1.4 kilometres of air conditioning pipes.

The server room hooked up to four electricity generators, capable of producing enough juice to power 266 homes.

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