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Air NZ CEO lashes out at IBM

13 Oct 2009

[UPDATED] In an internal email sent to staff, Air NZ CEO Rob Fyfe criticised IBM for yesterday’s Air NZ system outage and said that IBM’s response was ‘unacceptable’.Fyfe said in the email: “In my thirty year working career, I am struggling to recall a time where I have seen a supplier so slow to react to a catastrophic system failure such as this and so unwilling to accept responsibility and apologise to its client and its client’s customers, we were left high and dry and this is simply unacceptable.”He added: “My expectations of IBM were far higher than the amateur results that were delivered yesterday and I have been left with no option but to ask the IT team to review the full range of options available to us to ensure we have an IT supplier whom we have confidence in and one who understands and is fully committed to our business and the needs of our customers.”The outage was caused by a power failure at IBM’s Newton Data Centre at around 9:30 a.m. yesterday. The outage affected Air NZ’s flight processing function and electronic check-in and staff had to revert to manual functions.Fyfe’s email statement also said in regards to Air New Zealand staff’s efforts: “The end result was almost textbook handling of a major disruption, which is a far cry from IBM’s effort.”IBM issued a statement that said the power failure happened during a regular scheduled maintenance check, when the back-up generator experienced power failure. The statement said the company experienced power failure at 9:03 a.m., with restored power at 9:05 a.m. and was fully functional by 9:55 a.m. with service to most clients.Air New Zealand’s systems were not fully operational until 3 p.m. and more than 10,000 customers experienced delays.Air New Zealand is in a series of technical meetings with IBM today. [UPDATE] IBM responded to Sunday’s power outage with an e-mailstatement that blamed a failed oil pressure sensor on a backupgenerator.

The full statement is as follows:

“The cause of yesterday's power outage at the Newton Data Centre hasnot been fully determined. IBM's primary focus was to rapidly restoreservices to our clients, and in particular to Air New Zealand. IBMimmediately engaged a team of 32 local IT professionals supported byglobal colleagues and management to restore impacted client systems.Services to most clients were restored within an hour of the outage. Wehave already engaged an independent expert to conduct a thoroughinvestigation into the cause of the outage, however the likely causeappears to have been a failed oil pressure sensor on a backupgenerator. We regret any inconvenience caused to our clients or theircustomers.”

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