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ATO looks for "way forward" with HPE after storage hardware failure

ATO looks for "way forward" with HPE after storage hardware failure

The two organisations are working together on the future of their commercial relationship

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has revealed it is working with its technology partner, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to find a "way forward" following the failure of HPE storage hardware late last year.

"We have been working closely with [HPE] to discuss a way forward in our commercial relationship which recognises the impact the ATO’s system outages have had on our organisation, as well as the community, business, our key stakeholders and the Government," a spokesperson for the agency told ARN.

The comments come several months after an “unprecedented” failure in December last year of 3PAR storage hardware that had been upgraded in November 2015 by HPE, which resulted in widespread outages among many of the ATO’s systems.

In early February, Australia’s Commissioner of Taxation, Chris Jordan, took aim at HPE, suggesting that the agency’s technology partner had “failed” to reliably provide it with its contracted services.
“Initial indications are there has been a failure by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to provide contracted services in a reliable way and ensure stability of our systems,” Jordan said in a statement published on 8 February.

It emerged in early March that the storage drives responsible for the series of outages would be sent back to HPE's headquarters in the US to determine the cause of the problem.

Meanwhile, the ATO's website ran into trouble on 19 April, just a day after the agency wrapped up a major migration to new HPE storage area network (SAN) infrastructure.

The site was back up again just over an hour after being taken offline, but not before frustrated Australians took to social media to complain about the outage.

According to an ATO spokesperson, the issue was not related to the IT systems work carried out over the Easter long weekend to install its new SAN.

HPE also denied any involvement in the outage, stating that it was "not responsible for the delivery of the impacted services".

The agency revealed in March that it would switch out its faulty HPE storage hardware with a new HPE SAN over the Easter period, with most systems set to be taken offline from 13 April to 18 April.

“To provide resilient and stable systems for Tax Time 2017, we need to undertake additional weekend system maintenance in April and May," the ATO said on its website’s systems maintenance page.

“The additional system maintenance periods will allow us to progressively install our new storage area network (SAN) to replace the SAN which was involved in the major outages in December 2016 and February of this year."

As reported by sister publication, Computerworld, the ATO confirmed on 18 April that the SAN migration had been “successfully completed” over the Easter long weekend, with technicians completing business verification on ATO systems and applications on Monday, 17 April.

“Moving to the new SAN platform is a complex process, and while the component of the migration that required scheduled system outages has been completed, IT work will continue to be carried out throughout April and May,” an ATO spokesperson told Computerworld.

According to the ATO spokesperson, all internal and external systems were operating as normal and available, as of 17 April.

Updated to include additional comments by the ATO and HPE.

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Tags Hewlett-Packard EnterprisesanstorageATOAustralian Taxation OfficeHPE

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